Chocolove: The Age-Old Connection
Chocolate is one of the world's most beloved discoveries, and when we need a quick boost of energy and endorphins, chocolate is the go-to treat.
- Marcus Samuelsson
It’s the most sought after gift for Valentine’s day & often proclaimed to be an “aphrodisiac”. The question that remains is if this claim is true, and if so what’s the reason? To understand the connection between chocolate and love we must first look at where it comes from.
Not to be confused with Cocoa; The more common form of chocolately goodness available at your local supermarket. Cacao refers to the seeds/beans that grow from the Theobroma Cacao tree & is considered the pure form of chocolate, just a few steps away from its raw & natural unharvested state. Why is this important? Put simply, the chocolate(s) that we all know & love derive from this tree so therefore carry some of it’s qualities (dependent on purity & quality).
Phenylethylamine & Seratonin
Cacao contains plenty of antioxidants & carries numerous health benefits! Scientists have found that consuming chocolate, particularly that which is closer to pure cacao releases two key naturally occuring chemicals in our brain: Phenyethlyamine & Seratonin.
Taking a trip back to biology, Seratonin is the neurotransmitter commonly associated with feelings of happiness and well being. While Phenylethylamine, an organic chemical compound, is also released naturally when we feel love, passion, & lust. See the connection now? So don’t blame yourself for having that Hershey bar or that hot cocoa! Now, let’s talk purity.
Ever seen “X% Cacao” on a dark chocolate bar and asked yourself, what does this mean? This is, the amount of pure cacao that the chocolate bar contains. The more pure means more Phenyethylamine & Seratonin is released; Although quality is a big factor. 70% Cacao means the remaining 30% is other ingredients such as sugar, dairy, soy lecithin etc. while the 70% is the pure Cacao contained in the bar. Now we must be careful, as the higher percentage doesn’t always mean better. Why is that you ask?
Well because just like anything, quantity & quality do not exactly have a direct relationship. The Cacao beans naturally contain these antioxidants & beneficial chemicals, but can quickly be lost depending on the process of roasting, blending, & the amount of ingredients added.
Another factor is the Cacao’s origin, typically that grown in parts of West Africa where 70% of today’s Cacao is made is superior to that of Central America. So next time you’re out shopping for your special someone be sure to consider Dark Chocolate to help get the mood just right :)
There you have it. Chocolove has been finally explained. Is it an aphrodisiac? Well, there is surely a connection between our delicious chocolate & love. So I invite you to try it out for yourself! Valentine’s day is around the corner and now that we know of chocolate’s love connection it may just come in handy! Did you know that 58 million pounds of chocolate will be sold the week of Valentine’s?! (Sheerid.com) Let me know in the comments about your feelings on chocolate & love.