by Shalin Popat
From the time the first coca beans were harvested by the Mayans, there has been the belief that chocolate has a euphoric impact on the body's senses. The conquistadores saw the Emperor Montezuma of the Aztecs consuming a large quantity of cocoa in the form of a beverage called chocolatl before entering his harem. The invading Spaniards spread the Emperor's belief that cocoa was an aphrodisiac and brought it to Europe. This belief was also shared by one of history's most famous lovers, Giacomo Casanova.
Since then, the use of chocolate as part of the mating ritual has been firmly established. More recently it has been shown that not only does chocolate increase the sexual appetite but also produces a sense of elation similar to an orgasm. It has only been in recent times that scientists have unravelled chocolate's psychotropic properties and the effects it has on us. Chocolate has been found to contain modest amounts of the stimulants caffeine and theo-bromine, (much less than in coffee or tea) Chocolate is also known to generate increased levels of serotonin, a chemical naturally produced by the brain, which is known to reduce anxiety. Serotonin is most commonly associated with the effects of marijuana or getting 'stoned' (you would have to eat 25lbs of dark chocolate at once to achieve the same effect).
Neither of these properties by themselves provides the connection between eating chocolates and heightened sexual pleasure. It is in fact the rush of endorphins produced by eating chocolates, particularly dark chocolates, which is most similar to the bliss associated with a healthy sexual relationship. Chocolate also contains phenyl-ethylamine which is known to stimulate the release of dopamine into the pleasure centers commonly associated with an orgasm.
In addition to this scientific evidence, a great deal of behavioral research has been done to study the sexual behavior of women who eat a lot of chocolate and those who don't. The conclusion of this is that women who consume large quantities of chocolate have more satisfying sex lives. However the reverse correlation could also be assumed where women with satisfying sex lives tend to eat more chocolate.
Despite the fact that the relationship between sex and chocolate can't be proven with 100% certainty, the scientific evidence combined with behavioral studies provides a compelling argument for cocoa's impact on our sexual drive - it is convincing enough for chocolate to have become a part of my daily diet!
I recommend that you buy chocolate with a high cocoa content which taste better and do not contain extra sugars and oils like candy bars found in most shops. My personal favorite, Neuhaus chocolates, is an example of where you can get dark chocolate with a high cocoa content and a resulting surfeit of pleasure. To paraphrase the Song of Solomon, 'Stay me with flagons and comfort me with chocolates, for I am sick with love'.