Chocolate is an aphrodisiac and makes you feel good! Hooray! We all know that right? But why is that and is it true? Is there something in chocolate? The quick answer is yes, there’s lots of chemicals in chocolate, and there’s a huge amount about the subject knocking around if you care to look.
I’ll make no attempt to duplicate that here however as most of it is contradictory, controversial and confusing…..
As a bit of a scientist though I’ve always had an interest in the chemical side of chocolate and feel it would be rude not to share some of the fun bits here. So here goes with my potted guide to chemicals in chocolate and their possible effects.
Theobromine – chocolate is rich in this natural stimulant cousin of caffeine, just don’t give it to dogs. Chocolate also contains regular caffeine too.
Phenethylamine (PEA) – Alleged to be responsible for some of the pleasurable feelings chocolate gives because it releases enorphins (our natural feel good chemicals) in the brain. PEA is also released by the brain when people are falling in love so one thing leads to another and before you know it eating chocolate is like falling in love… Sadly though, some research suggests eating PEA is no good as your body gets rid of it before it does anything. Bah humbug to that!
Cocoa butter – more a fat than a mysterious chemical, but none the less responsible for chocolate melting so seductively in the mouth (or anywhere else for that matter)
The chemical list goes on and on as chocolate contains over 300 different substances and we don’t know what they all do. It is however a well known fact that giving chocolate gifts brings great joy to loved ones and that if you believe something is an aphrodisiac then it will probably work like one anyway. So who cares if the scientists can prove it or not, if your loved one loves chocolate then what better time to treat them than on Valentines day!