The Bittersweet Benefits of Chocolate for Sex & Health
What if you were chosen as part of a research project to consume 3 ounces of chocolate per day every day for one year? For the sake of research and the betterment of humanity of course. The researchers would find a significant rise in the concentration of a flavonoid antioxidant and a significant reduction in potentially harmful oxidizing substances in the blood. When it comes to reducing damaging oxidation in the body, chocolate is as potent as having a cup of tea or a glass of red wine. And chocolate has been found to act like aspirin in reducing the possibility of the blood clotting. The phytochemicals found in chocolate may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. By many measures, consumption of chocolate is linked to lower rates of stroke, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions. While there is no beneficial effect on the risk for heart failure or diabetes, there is a belief amongst some in the research community that dark chocolate can assist in sugar metabolization, and help reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research indicates that flavanols have other positive influences on vascular health, such as reducing blood pressure by controlling arterial tension by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in the blood. Chocolate improves blood circulation to the brain for up to two and three hours after it is eaten. The flavonoids dilate the blood vessels in the brain allowing a larger blood flow, which means more oxygen to the brain. This helps the brain to fight off fatigue, insomnia, and aging, improving memory and learning.
When you eat a chocolate morsel, phenylethylamine, a neuronal disinhibitor switches on the brain’s pleasure nuclei inducing a state of euphoric excitement similar to the one experienced during sex. This basically boosts the sex drive producing a sensation similar to alcohol. The improved circulation and blood flow induced by flavonoids also enhances sex drive. Chocolate raises the serotonin levels similar to what an antidepressant drug does, stimulating endorphins.
Chocolate increase your good cholesterol (HDL) while lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL) all due to the antioxidant properties same as those found in fruits and vegetables, wine, and tea. The antioxidants found in chocolate actually clean up the arteries, acting like brooms sweeping plaque out of the arteries. Dark chocolate make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot decreasing the risk of heart attack by 50%, coronary disease by 10%, and premature death by 8%.
And if you catch a cold, the cocoa in chocolate has been shown to be more effective against coughing than many medicines without side effects with the exception of weight gain if consumed in excess. Then if you feel a little anemic, chocolate contains iron including magnesium, proven to minimize pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS). The high levels of magnesium in cacao is an important mineral that aids in the regulation of digestion, neurological functions, and the cardiovascular system improving overall health especially for individuals that are magnesium deficient.
If you want to live long and be well, study after study has concluded that chocolate extends life by about a year and impedes cell deterioration. But the caveat is to consume raw cacao every day rather than the more sweetened varieties.
Theobromine, an alkaloid similar to that found in caffeine is also found in chocolate. It seems to be able to defend the mouth against tooth decay, and is more effective than fluoride in increasing the strength of the crystalline structure of teeth by eliminating streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the oral cavity that contributes to tooth decay.
The more chocolate is processed (through things like fermentation, alkalizing, roasting, etc.), the more flavanols are lost. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed. Although it was once believed that dark chocolate contained the highest levels flavanols, recent research indicates that, depending on how the dark chocolate was processed, this may not be true. The good news is that most major chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to keep the flavanols in their processed chocolates. But for now, your best choices are likely dark chocolate over milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars), and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).
Stay mindful when eating even the healthiest and least processed chocolate, as with everything in life there are two sides to every story, including this ancient superfood. Coach Conner will explore the dangers of chocolate in her next article.
Do you like chocolate? Which chocolate do you eat to obtain all the benefits while avoiding highly-processed sugars and fats?
Image courtesy of Love and Chocolate Week NYC.
Mike Conner helps individuals reinvent the conversation between their brain, body and food. A Wellness, Food and Kitchen Coach who spends endless hours helping her clients create meaningful life plans as she infuses their lives with fresh ways of thinking about lifestyle change. As Conner says: “there is no such thing as bad or good genes, good or bad karma. There are solely life’s trails and corrections.” She encourages people to figure out ways to explore the edges of the world around them, from changing their physical environment to the cultivation of new interests and habits. Visit coachconner.com for extended versions of health and wellness articles.