Is Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?
Because yesterday was Valentine’s day, we thought we would share something useful for those who got chocolate from their valentine (or from themselves).
The claim that chocolate is an aphrodisiac is not new. In fact, it started with the Aztecs where the cocoa bean was thought to enhance sexual desire, so much that the emperor Montezuma was known to consume cocoa in large quantities before his romantic rendez-vous (1).
Now, people believe that the tryptophan (component of serotonin: the happy chemical) and the phenylalanine (related to amphetamine; the chemical released when you fall in love) contained in chocolate are associated with aphrodisiac qualities. However, studies are divided, because most researchers believe that the amounts are too small to deliver true effects (1).
Some studies also state that cocoa has the ability to increase peripheral blood flow (just like the Viagra medication) but the evidence shows that sexual functions will only be improved for people with compromised blood flow to start with and no supporting evidence was found for its direct relationship with sexual desire (2).
The reason why some people swear about the aphrodisiac properties of chocolate as well as foods like oysters may simply be that they believe in them. Actually, rigorous studies are hard to conduct because of the high placebo effect (2).
Bottom line is there are plenty of reasons to enjoy chocolate and the increase of desire can be one of them but only if you believe in it!
Happy (belated) Valentine’s day everyone! And if you don’t have a valentine, I will gladly be yours :)
O’Connor, A. (2006). The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/18real.html
Brown, J. (2019). Do aphrodisiacs really work?. BBC https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190211-do-aphrodisiacs-really-work