With Valentine's Day right around the corner, you're probably wondering: Is chocolate really an aphrodisiac? And if so, just what is the perfect dose?
An aphrodisiac - named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty - is something that is believed to "put you in the mood for love." Chocolate's reputation as an aphrodisiac actually goes back 1,500 years, to the Aztecs. The Aztecs believed that chocolate invigorated men and made women less inhibited. They even celebrated its harvest with festivals of wild orgies. In addition, it is reported that the Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 golden goblets of chocolate each day to boost his virility before visiting his extensive harem.
But is chocolate really an aphrodisiac? Scientists say "probably not" in one breath, while explaining the chemical basis of chocolate's mood-altering abilities in the next. Chocolate contains two substances that occur naturally in the human brain and tend to have a stronger affect on women than on men: Phenylethylamin and Seratonin. The brain normally releases these substances when we're happy...and when we experience feelings of love, passion, and/or lust. The brain's release of Phenylethylamin and Seratonin causes a rapid mood change, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and general feelings of well being. When chocolate is consumed it also releases these chemicals into the bloodstream and gives an instant energy boost.
So there you have it - chocolate contains two powerful chemical mood lifters that are associated with feelings of happiness, love, passion, lust, endurance, and stamina. Chemically speaking, chocolate makes you feel good. But is it really an aphrodisiac? It's hard to say. In the interest of science, we recommend you conduct your own experiments and find out!