From folklore to hard core science, discover what makes it chocolate a food of love
Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac is deeply embedded in the history of Western civilization. The Mayans used cacao beans to pay for prostitutes in their early version of whorehouses. (The going rate was around eight beans per woman). And the great Aztec ruler Montezuma was one of the first red hot lovers to tap into the strengths of the aphrodisiac of chocolate. He reportedly consumed as much as fifty cups of a cocoa elixir before heading off to his harem.
The Spanish Conquistadors introduced chocolate to Europe not as a sexual stimulant but as a rich, hot drink. Yet text from the seventeenth century show that by the Rococo period, “One obtained strength from chocolate for certain tasks.” The pleasure principal was clearly understood during Rococo times!
Can it impact hormones?
In the late Twentieth Century, Michael Liebowitz of the New York State Psychiatric institute proved that the phenylethylamine (PEA) in chocolate releases the same hormone as does sexual intercourse. Although naysayer object that the amount of PEA is too small to produce significant results, this sweet drug offers hundreds of other chemical compound. In fact, chocolate is among the world’s most complex foods.
A new kind of health food
Chocolate contains flavonoids, antioxidants from the same “family” as those in green tea and red wine. In fact, studies show that the antioxidant activity in one serving of cocoa is higher than that of either tea or red wine. The darker the chocolate, the more potent antioxidants it contains.
Adam Drewnowski from the University of Michigan proved that eating this sweet candy of love produces natural opiates in the brain. This provides another insight into chocolate’s feel-good reputation.
Further studies at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego illustrated that three of the chemical compounds in chocolate act like THC, the active chemical in marijuana. Like with marijuana, these chemicals will spark dopamine production in the brain. Unfortunately, the National Institute of Mental Health released research indicating that a 130 lb person has to eat approximately 25 lbs in one sitting to experience any marijuana-like effects.
But you need not risk diabetic coma to appreciate chocolate’s aphrodisiac allure. Casanova, the legendary lover, touted the aphrodisiac of chocolate for its ability to provide energy for a night on the prowl. He also understood the allure of creamy, dark chocolate on craving-prone women, for whom chocolate can turn on the pleasure sensors in the brain. In fact, the great lothario declared dark chocolate’s sweet, complex and sensual pleasure among the world’s finest aphrodisiacs, second only to Champagne.
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