Throughout much of history, chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac. From the world’s most famous lover Casanova, who was known to drink Cioccolata at Café Florian in Venice and considered chocolate to be the “elixir of love” (and more stimulating than champagne) to Montezuma, who it’s claimed drank a cup of chocolate before entering his harem, chocolate has been noted as one of nature’s most mystical aphrodisiacs. One report on the ancient Aztecs noted that because of this, all foods made with chocolate were strictly forbidden to women. (1) As a nutritionist– and a man with common sense– I know the second golden rule is NEVER get between a woman and her chocolate! But what is it about chocolate that stimulates our bodies and minds and is it actually healthy?
Infamous sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer noted that “the taste of chocolate is a sensual pleasure in itself, existing in the same world as sex.” There are many properties inherent in chocolate that lead to this phenomenon. One of the chemicals in chocolate is Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is required by the brain to produce Serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that modifies mood, generating feelings of pleasure and promotes an overall sense of wellbeing. Chocolate also contains Phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring amino-acid considered to have aphrodisiacal effects. Phenylethylamine is a substance which is released naturally in the human body when you’re in love. Chocolate also contains Theobromine, a chemical stimulant with a mood improving effect. Lastly, chocolate contains another neurotransmitter, Anandamide. Anadamine targets the same brain structure as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active ingredient in cannabis. (2)
So why do women typically have a stronger emotional satisfaction from chocolate than men do? According to head nutritionist for Dr. Mercola’s Optimal Wellness Center Jim Marlowe, (who happens to be one of my nutrition coaches) “Women classically have a different relationship with food then men. Typically, women get more pleasure out of foods like deserts and sweets than a man will. In a man’s brain, the pleasure center for food and sex are very close but distinctly separate. In women, they are superimposed on each other. In general, when a woman eats chocolate or desert the pleasure response leads to an intense feeling that’s more than a man can understand.” (3)
According to Italian researchers, women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who deny themselves the treat. Those consuming chocolate had the highest levels of desire, arousal and satisfaction from sex. The study, which was presented at the European Society for Sexual Medicine in London, found: “Women who have a daily intake of chocolate showed higher levels of desire than women who did not have this habit. Chocolate can have a positive physiological impact on a woman’s sexuality.” (4)
Recently, British scientists observed couples while they ate squares of dark chocolate and while they kissed passionately. Sorry to say but chocolate prevailed. Women’s heart rates rose 20 percent more and their bodies released 4 times the endorphins when they ate the cacao-rich chocolate. (5)
So is chocolate truly “healthy”? Absolutely! Yet the ingredients that we typically mix with chocolate are not. The higher the cacao level the more beneficial it is for your health. Ideally, choose an organic chocolate with cacao levels at least 65%. For example, the organic cacao used in FIT 365 shakes is more than twice as strong as red wine or green tea in the powerful antioxidants polyphenol catechins. Remember, chocolate is naturally bitter not sweet so make sure you choose a chocolate source that is healthfully sweetened. For example, chose candies sweetened with xylitol or raw honey rather than cane sugar. If using chocolate with cane sugar, keep your quantities low enough to keep you from a large insulin spike but high enough to satiate your desire. So enjoy your chocolate– and fellas don’t worry that she enjoys chocolate more than kissing you. Just get her some chocolate at the end of the date and let nature’s naughty indulgence work its magic for you!