- Gender and Relationships
Dark Chocolate Melting on the Tongue for Exquisite Sensations of Intense Pleasure
Is Dark Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?
Studies show that dark chocolate is better than passionate kissing
When was the last time you had a really passionate toes-tingling kiss? Can you remember the heart-pounding, double-espresso feelings it brought to your entire body? The sparks were flying, the air was so electric you could taste it, and you were willing to stay up all night just to be with this great sensation.
It is said that eating a piece of chocolate, excellent chocolate, is as good as and maybe even better than a passionate kiss with someone you madly love. Scientists in the UK, the US, and in Japan did tests to determine if this were true.
Scientific Tests Reveal Fine Dark Chocolate Beats Passionate Kissing
Scientists in Britain hooked electrodes up to the brains and hearts of healthy young couples who were madly in love with their partner. Each couple was asked to kiss passionately. They all did, without any embarrassment! Their heartbeat and their brain activity were measured during each kiss.
Then, in order to clear their mind of passionate kissing, they were asked to count backwards by 7 from 200.
They were then given a piece of dark chocolate to taste. They were instructed to bite off a piece of the fine dark chocolate then put it on their tongue and allow it to melt.
Their heartbeat and their brain activity were measured again during their enjoyment of the chocolate.
“There is no doubt that chocolate beats kissing hands down when it comes to providing a long-lasting body and brain buzz. A buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.”
- Dr David Lewis, The Mind Lab.
Dr David Lewis, formerly with the University of Sussex in Britain and now with The Mind Lab, performed one of the chocolate tests we see above. He was surprised and intrigued with the results he found. Although he expected chocolate to increase heart rates because of the substances in chocolate, he did not expect an increase in heart rates from a resting rate of about 60 beats per minute to go as high as 140. Nor did he expect the “buzz”, as he calls it, from chocolate to last so much longer than the effects of a passionate kiss.
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
Anthropologist Helen Fisher is the author of,
Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love
-a provocative book that provides answers to age-old questions such as, why do we feel certain things when we ‘fall in love’? She and her research colleagues at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and SUNY Stony Brook, studied the brain circuitry and chemistry of romantic love through fMRI brain scanning and determined that love is not an emotion.
According to Dr Fisher, love is not an emotion!
Love is “a motivation system, it’s a drive, it’s part of the reward system of the brain.”
Fisher goes on to divide love into three "primary mating drives" that involve three different but related brain systems and different sets of androgens, neurotransmitters, and hormones at each stage:
1) Lust (the craving for sexual gratification), driven by androgens and estrogens;
2) Attraction (romantic or passionate love, euphoria, focused attention, obsessive thinking, and intense craving for the individual), driven by high dopamine and norepinephrine levels and low serotonin levels;
3) Attachment (the sense of calm, peace, and stability one feels with a long-term partner) driven by the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin.
When comparing the effects of chocolate on the brain and body with Dr Fisher’s primary mating drives we are most interested in the second mating drive she describes, Attraction.
According to Dr Fisher, during the Attraction phase of our mating drives we experience similar feelings as those we experience when we eat fine dark chocolate. These feelings and sensations are the result of several neurotransmitters: dopamine, adrenaline, serotonin (also found in chocolate) kicking in and affecting the body and brain in similar ways.
So What’s in Chocolate that Makes Us Feel Soooo Good
Chocolate has a reputation of being an aphrodisiac, not surprisingly given what is in chocolate – dark chocolate, that is. The exquisite feelings of euphoria we enjoy by eating dark chocolate, are driven by the 'feel-good' neurotransmitters we find in chocolate:
Norepinephrine increases blood levels of adrenalin, making your palms sweat and your mouth go dry with the anticipation of seeing and being with the person of your desire.
Tryptophan, another chemical in chocolate, that causes the release of the neurotransmitter Serotonin which helps to reduce stress and lead to feelings of euphoria. In chocolate, serotonin is actually lowered to levels where focus and concentration on the object of our desire is accentuated. This is why we can't seem to get the other person out of our mind.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) - a neurotransmitter known as 'the love drug', is also contained in Chocolate. Phenylethylamine is also called the "chocolate amphetamine." PEA causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels leading to feelings of excitement and alertness.
Anandamide - known as 'the bliss drug', got its name from the Sanskrit word, ananda, meaning bliss. It was as recently as 1996 that anandamide was discovered in Chocolate. At the same time researches also detected two substances that mimic the effects of anandamide (N-oleoylethanolamine and N-linoleoylethanolamine) and work to slow the breakdown of anandamide, extending the feelings of well-being.
Anandamide is unique due to its resemblance to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical found in marijuana. But, anandamide is not nearly as effective as the THC in marijuana. It would take twenty-five pounds of chocolate to achieve a similar high to that of marijuana.
Anandamide is “endogenous” which means it is produced naturally in the brain. THC, found in cannabis, is not produced naturally in the body but it too causes the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which triggers the intense rush of pleasure you experience when kissing someone you are extremely attracted to.
Theobromine, (the name comes from the Greek word theobroma, meaning “food of the gods”), is another chemical found in chocolate that can affect the nervous system by leading to mental and physical relaxation.
Although theobromine is often thought to be caffeine in chocolate, there is little scientific evidence that chocolate contains caffeine. (If it does, the amount is extremely minute. More on this myth later.) The buzz you might feel from chocolate is much milder than the kind of buzz you would feel from caffeine. Theobroma is a much more gentle stimulant that keeps you aware of the "aphrodisiac" qualities of very fine gourmet chocolate.
Dark, Milk and White Chocolate
Not just any chocolate will provide these exquisite sensations
It takes fine dark chocolate melting on the tongue to produce out-of-this-world heavenly pleasures. The darker and the higher the quality of the chocolate the more cacao solids of fine quality it will contain.
Superb chocolate will contain (in this order, indicating highest amounts) cacao solids, cacao butter, maybe a very small amount of natural sugar, and maybe a small amount of vanilla. If it has the best balance of cacao butter with the cacao solids it does not need lecithin. And it definitely should not contain vanillin.
The 'aphrodisiac' qualities of chocolate do not come from milk chocolate or white chocolate. The exquisite experience that can be yours from chocolate comes only from good dark chocolate. That is why you want to look for chocolate that is 70% or higher in cacao solids and that comes from a high quality bean or mix of beans.
Milk chocolate contains 15% - 30% cacao solids, depending on the manufacturer, and milk completely reduces the effects of the psychological drugs in chocolate. Milk chocolate, like white chocolate, contains sugar and the "buzz" you may experience from milk chocolate may be from the sugar.
White chocolate contains no cacao solids and, therefore, is not considered chocolate at all! White chocolates are actually confectioneries or candies. They can be good, even delicious, but they are not chocolates.
Perhaps the best, most sensual experience one can have is with raw chocolate in the form of nibs or cocoa powder. Raw chocolate is as natural as possible and has been through as little processing as possible leaving as much of cacao's enormous benefits as possible.
For more information on the health benefits of raw chocolate, check out David Wolfe's new book, "Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future."
Raw Chocolate (Cacao Nibs)
Chocolate comes from a mix of Cocoa (and other ingredients) that comes from the Cacao bean from the Theobroma Cacao Tree. The term ‘Cocoa’ is used in reference to chocolates, the drink cocoa, and to the powder. The term ‘Cacao’ is used to refer to raw cacao, the bean and the tree.
Cacao is pronounced 'Ka-Kow', and rhymes with cow. (The name Cacao was inadvertently changed to Cocoa by a clerk transposing a shipping manifest when Cacao was originally shipped to Europe. - so the story goes)!
David Wolfe and Shazzie (authors of the popular new book, Naked Chocolate:The Astonishing Truth About the World's Greatest Food) cite evidence that raw chocolate (cacao nibs) is one of the earth's greatest nutritional offerings. For more information on the health benefits of raw chocolate, check out David Wolfe's new book.
Important - DO NOT feed chocolate to dogs, cats or horses
Two Special Treats for You to Enjoy - with Thanks from Me and vespawoolf
- Belgium's Chocolate Source 2012 Catalogue
Importers and distributors of the best belgian gourmet chocolate brands and confections since 1998.
If you like Dark Chocolate, or are willing to try a recipe with good dark chocolate, be sure to check out vespawoolf's hub on Chocolate Almond Bark. It is a sensational treat to make for friends.
What Type of Chocolate Do You Like Best?
© 2012 Marilyn Alexander