Chocolate, good or bad?
Take home message
- Chocolate is good for heart health
- Anything that is good for your heart is good for male sexual function andÂ penile health
- Chocolate has components that can help fight cancer
- Chocolate is high in calories so too much can contribute to weight gain. You can still eat plenty without worrying about weight gain.
- The darker the chocolate the healthier it is for you.
- Typical chocolate candy bars are VERY high in milk and sugar, therefore are unhealthy
- My favorite are raw cocoa nibs found in health food stores mixed with yogurt or smoothie with some raw honey
- Unsweetened chocolate is bitter – not sweet.
First, a few cacao historical facts:
- The Olmec of what is today southeast Mexico were the first to use and eat chocolate around 1000 BC, and their word, “kakawa,” gave us our word “cacao.”
- The cacao beans were used as currency to buy rabbits, prostitutes and slaves.Â The beans were still used as currency in parts of Latin America until the 19th century.
- Mid 1500’s chocolate first made it to Spain and considered it a health food and a medicine. Doctors prescribed it for curing fevers, cooling the body, aiding in digestion, and alleviating pain. The church also approved it as a nutritional supplement to take while fasting.
- ChocolateÂ was the first caffeine to reach Europe, beating out coffee and tea by a few years.
- In 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate, creating a milk chocolate bar.
- In 1879, Swiss chap Rudolphe Lindt invented the conch, a machine that rotated and mixed chocolate to a perfectly smooth consistency.
- By 1907, Milton Hershey’s factory was spitting out 33 million kisses per day.
There are several types of chocolate and they allÂ have different nutritional content:
Generally speaking, Cacao contains fat, sugars, carbohydrates and protein, it has historically been used as energy food – one pound of chocolate has aboutÂ 2000 calories. Ironically, like avocado and olive oil, high quality chocolate does not make you fat. It also contains high levels of catechin ( plant chemicals also found in green tea) , fiber, carbohydrates, B vitamins and anti-oxidant-like substances. Calcium, Phosphates, Vitamins A, C and D occur in smaller quantities. Two main phytochemicals found in cacao are caffeine and theobromine. Of course, you have heard of caffeine but theobromine is another interesting chemical with multiple heart benefits.
One of its actions is its ability to inhibit phosphodiesterase enzyme (PDE). Do you know another PDE inhibitor? Guess. Give up?
Viagra and all its competitors.
Chocolate as an aphrodisiac
Throughout the world chocolate has been use as an aphrodisiac for centuries. It is no wonder that it is the most popular gift on Valentine’s day. Chocolate is high in tryptophan and theobromine and these chemicals are thought to be the cause of physical and mental relaxation, both beneficial for optimal sexual mood and function.
Quick Fact: Dark chocolate has at least 50% pure cacao with little or no milk and sugar
Although the research in this area is scarce, one randomized study showed chocolate helped woman with increase sexual desire compared to non-chocolate consumers but a difference inÂ sexual satisfaction was not found in any of the two groups (Salonia et al. 2006). There is no research as of yet indicating that chocolate has any Viagra like benefit in men.
LatestÂ published study on Chocolate
A recent study looked at 7 non-randomized studies and showed a reduction of about a third in the risk of heart related disorders. This beneficial association was significant forÂ cardiovascular disease , diabetes and stroke but no significant association was found in relation to heart failure. (Lopez et al. 2011)
Quick Fact: the most expensive (oops, sorry) most extravagant chocolate (as they would call it) is La Madeline au Truffe found in South Norwalk, CT. OneÂ small round piece cost $250.
Question: What is your favorite chocolate movie? Chime in below.
Mine is Like water for chocolate.
In Optimal health,
Salonia, A., Fabbri, F., Zanni, G., Scavini, M., Fantini, G. V., Briganti, A., et al. (2006).Chocolate and women’s sexual health: An intriguing correlation. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3(3), 476âˆ’482.
Buitrago-Lopez A, Sanderson J, Johnson L, Warnakula S, Wood A, Di Angelantonio E, Franco OH. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011 Aug 26;343:d4488