How To Get High On Chocolate

I was given a gift the other day that I promptly eliminated. I ate it. Even up until the last bite I thought I had self-control, but empty packages don’t lie.

The gift was raw chocolate – or to be more specific, a magical concoction whose main ingredient is raw chocolate.

Here’s why I think the control part was difficult – I was on a serotonin high. The chocolate we usually eat is roasted – neutered of its nutritional powers. Raw chocolate is nutritionally “intact”. One chemical found in abundance in raw chocolate is tryptophan, a neurotransmitter which creates serotonin, the feel-good chemical that courses through our blood.  We think of serotonin as being a brain chemical, but 80% is produced in the gut.  It’s not in your head – eating well does directly affect your mood! (Other “high” inducing foods endowed with tryptophan, are dates and bananas.)

And while chocolate is making you happy, it’s also nourishing your cells.  Cocao is a fruit and raw cocao is the number one food-based antioxidant  – far higher than blueberries or strawberries.  (Oxidation is what naturally happens to cells, and over time this wears out your body, and contributes to disease.  There is strong evidence that consuming anti-oxidants helps to control this.) Dark chocolate has gotten a lot of attention as a “health” food, but raw dark chocolate is in another league.

But buyer beware,  some raw chocolate bars are horrific and taste like sawdust.  (Leave a note in the comment section if you’d like to know the one I’d recommend avoiding and I’ll email you the answer).  The one I devoured was  gnosis chocolate – specifically Fleur de Sel – sold at Whole Foods in NYC, in the raw section (you won’t find anything raw in the Chocolate section).  Raw chocolate is not mass yet, so brands tend to be pretty local. (Update: Here is the link to all the US stores where you can buy Gnosis) . Price-wise, it’s higher than roasted chocolate but it’s cheaper than drugs and as far as I know still legal.

Photo: A bite taken out of  my “gnosis chocolate” bar before being devoured. Copyright ©Michelle Madden

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  • Lisa

    I have always been looking for an excuse to eat more chocolate … thanks for giving me one! But am guessing M&Ms aren’t raw .. anyone? :)

    • Josh L.

      no you need a bar that’s around 80% or more to achieve a “HIGH”

  • Sonya

    I did a search of foods containing tryptophan (who doesn’t want a hit of seratonin to their gut!) I was surprised by how many animal products were on the list (meat, fish, cheese, milk, eggs) Why is that? What’s in animal products that gives us such a “high”?
    I’m a vegetarian – so at least I get to go on a chocolate binge guilt free.

    • Michelle

      Yes, there is a lot of tryptophan in protein products such as meat (eggs are incredibly high in it too). I’m sure it is in part for this reason, that global meat consumption is so high. It makes people feel good! (In the short term — until they over consumer…)

      Since you’re veggie, you might consider eating more eggs (unless you dont do eggs), in which case the other product to add to your diet is “spirulina” (an algae) which is super high in tryptophan as well as tons of other nutrients and sold at most health food stores.


    Love this one….

  • moji

    that is my ABSOLUTE favorite chocolate bar in the whole wide world. as i looked at the photo i though “that looks like the gnosis fleur de sel” bar. pure sweet salty deliciousness there!

    • Michelle

      hilarious! have you come across any other raw choc bars you love? i have never had one that comes close to gnosis but i am always on the lookout. let us know if you do!

  • cynthia

    YES I want to know the ones to look for so I can devour them!

    • Michelle

      Actually I was referring to a couple brands that I found tasted like healthy sawdust. The one I highly recommend is “gnosis” and I just noticed on their website that they DO distribute across the US, as well as sell online. See here.

  • ania

    oh…those theeth marks should be mine

  • Abby

    Do you know anything about imported chocolate? what about eating the actual cocoa fruits? whats the nutrient amount found in that? I grew up in Ghana and i remember sucking on the fruits and throwing the seeds away. I think cocoa comes from the seeds though. i’m not sure.

    p.s. this seems off topic. sorry

    • Michelle

      Abby, not off topic at all! In fact this is super interesting — most people aren’t even aware that cocoa is a fruit, let alone have the experience of eating the fruit as you got to! The fruit part is sweet and delicious and though I cant say for certain, am sure it is nutritious in the way that other sweet fruit is. The cocoa seeds are definitely bitter (which is where the chocolate comes from). Wikipedia has even more on this topic here.

      Re, imported chocolate, I don’t know a lot about it, but if you had specific Qs, ask them and am sure we can find the answer !

      • Chocolate Girl

        Abby I’m working on it! That fruit surrounding the beans is just incredible but NO ONE has it in the US… stay tuned….

  • Dorothy

    Okay, you’ve got my interest peaked – What’s the chocolate raw food bar that tastes like sawdust?
    And thanks for the great article! Would you mind if I posted it on my blog with your site/url?

    • Michelle

      Post away! The one I am, lets just say, less keen on, is Righteously Raw. It’s made in CA but I believe has national distribution.

      • Dorothy

        Never heard of that one – being from Montana, but I’m not gonna try it! Thanks! I’ve never had a good a raw chocolate as good as home-made, still!

  • Nancy

    Is it cocoa or cacao?

    • Michelle

      Both — here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the two words: “The word “cocoa” is derivative of “cacao”. “Cocoa” can often also refer to the drink commonly known as hot chocolate; to cocoa powder, the dry powder made by grinding cocoa seeds and removing the cocoa butter from the dark, bitter cocoa solids; or to a mixture of cocoa powder and cocoa butter.”

  • Dee

    Please tell me where can i buy some looks so delicious.

    • Michelle

      You can buy them here. Although shipping to Africa may make it exhorbitant! (May be cheaper to buy a ticket to NYC and I’ll take you to the store…)

  • debi

    Fine and Raw makes some amazing raw chocolate!

  • LucyJoy

    I don’t like the taste of sawdust, so yes, I would like to know which one tastes nasty.

    I’m going to have to order on-line, since there’s no store in my area that carries raw chocolate.

  • Kate Carter

    i love dark chocolate, even bittersweet. i am eager to try raw! please tell me which brand to avoid

    • Michelle

      The kind I found quite unpleasant is “Righteously Raw” . I believe it’s made in San Diego and sold in quite a few Whole Foods. To each their own, but for me, when it comes to chocolate, the taste and mouth-feel can not be compromised!

  • Cynthia Armistead

    We love dark chocolate, and I’d like to try it raw! Does anyone know where we might find some in the Atlanta, Georgia area? According to their web site, Gnosis doesn’t sell to any stores around here (although I do intend to go to a Whole Foods to see if they might happen to have some, just in case).

    Thank you!

    • Michelle

      I don’t know of any stores specifically in that region that do, but try Whole Foods. Gnosis does sell through their website, so that’s one option. Good luck!

  • Robbie

    I finally made it to Whole Foods, and right there, in the chocolate section, I found a bar of Gnosis. I picked the “Power Choc” bar and just bit into it. OMG! I feel high already! :-) Delicious! Thanks for turning me onto this raw brand Michelle!

    I love your blog!!!!

    • Michelle

      Thanks R! I’m warning you now, this raw choc habit can get addictive …. next you’ve gotta try the “fleur de sel” version of Gnosis. I imagine they serve this in heaven.

  • Fred Belcher Jr

    Thanks, Michelle, for the interesting info….I had no idea there are ‘raw’ chocolate bars. At my website ( I have several Posts on chocolate, including one on cacao being one of the top 5 ‘brain foods’. I ordered the raw cacao powder from (NOW brand) and try to take one heap’n tablespoon a day in strawberry kefir. The stuff is awesomely bitter (to the max!!) by itself, but does well in the kefir. It is also suppose to have the highest content of magnesium than any known food.

  • Aelia

    I’ve been sitting here drooling over that picture of a chocolate bar for a few minutes. It looks delicious (and sounds pretty good, too.)

    I am curious about which brand you suggest avoiding, though.

    • Michelle

      Righteously Raw — I found it tasted like brown sawdust, minus any choc flavor at all!

  • Meg

    I gotta know what this saw dust chocolate is, to steer clear.

    • Michelle

      Righteously Raw. It’s made in California which I where I had it. Not sure if it has national distribution …

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  • Sasidhar G B

    Please let me know the one that I need to avoid… thank you

    • Michelle Madden

      The one I really did not like is called Righteously Raw – thought it tasted like sawdust, but I think it’s a bit of a preference thing, so you may have to try a few!

  • guest

    it’s not just serotonin, chocolate containts anandamide, which affects the mind’s Cannabinoid receptors, not as drastically, but in much the same way as THC, giving you a pseudo (weed-like) high.

  • Dafuq

    This morning I just drank an ayurvedic health tea containing cayenne and ginger. Then I promptly had a small bite off a moser roth dark chocolate and now I feel almost as stoned as when I mix cayenne with cacao beans.

  • yuuurrrrrrrrrrrrr

    can someone just sum this up for me this is so confusing n too much to read.