By Lydia Nader, RD
Love is in the air! Forget oysters or exotic spices- one of the best aphrodisiacs might already be in your pantry! Let’s break down the powers of dark chocolate.
What is dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made up of 50-90% of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Regular milk chocolate contains only 10-50% of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk and sugar. This means that there typically is higher sugar, vegetable oils and artificial flavoring in the lower quality chocolates. Choose dark chocolate for its health benefits.
Dark chocolate as an aphrodisiac
The power of dark chocolate as an aphrodisiac lies in its micronutrients. Tryptophan, a building block of serotonin, and phenylethylamine, a part of amphetamine, are both associated with feelings of falling in love. The hormones serotonin and amphetamine are part of the brain’s way of indicating sexual arousal. However, we should keep in mind that most of us aren’t eating a pound of dark chocolate in one sitting (hopefully!), so the amount of micronutrients in a serving isn’t huge.
But even in these small amounts, the “feel good” properties released by dark chocolate are undeniable. Tryptophan and phenylthylamine, even in small doses, make you feel great by firing neurological signals known as neurotransmitters in the brain, creating feelings of excitement and increasing the heart rate, signs of a person in love. Dark chocolate has also been shown to decrease stress and pain thanks to endorphins, the same hormone released after exercise. Furthermore, dark chocolate contains anadamide which works in the brain to increase dopamine production, making you feel great all over.
Added benefits of dark chocolate
Dark chocolate has proven benefits for heart health as well. Flavanols, plant chemicals also known as phytochemicals, are a key agent of anti-inflammation and can increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate is also rich in iron, magnesium and zinc, making it a great addition to any active individual’s diet.
Science has proven the properties of dark chocolate and its neurological and hormonal effects on the brain can make you feel good in many ways, so don’t pass on the dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day. With healthy benefits, tasty ways to enjoy it and proven ways to make you feel great, dark chocolate is a tasty treat to indulge in and it could just get you into the mood in this Valentine’s Day.
- “Dark Chocolate.” The Nutrition Source, 27 Feb. 2017, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/dark-chocolate/.
- Salonia A, Fabbri F, Zanni G, et al. Chocolate and women’s sexual health: An intriguing correlation. J Sex Med. 2006;3(3):476-82.
Lydia Nader is a registered dietitian and a true warrior. Taking her passion for running and healthy eating to her profession, Lydia has been a practicing RD working with athletes for almost two years now. She works to help athletes understand their personal nutrition needs so that their bodies are performing at the highest level. Lydia even brings her passion to young athletes, working as a coach for Girls on the Run.
Learn about the heart health benefits of dark chocolate here.