So, it’s approaching that time of year when we all go love crazy…yes, it’s almost Valentines Day! But, I hear you shout, what to buy for that special someone!? The traditional old standby of flowers are always appealing, but do they really pack them same punch when it comes to creating that loving atmosphere, as the scientifically proven, love-inducing fever created by chocolate? I think not!! Want to know why? Then read on 😀
The reputation of chocolate as an aphrodisiac originated in South America over fifteen hundred years ago, where cacao was believed to have both mystical and aphrodisiac qualities within the Mayan and Aztec cultures. The Aztec emperor Montezuma is reputed to have drunk fifty golden goblets of chocolate each day in order to enhance his sexual prowess, understandable when you consider that he had 600 wives to keep happy, so when the Conquistadors discovered chocolate and introduced it to Europe, it was natural that they continued to associate it with passion. The observed effects of chocolate on human behaviour reinforced the belief, and it is these effects that have ensured the lasting place within almost all modern cultures of chocolate.
Chocolate as a food source is extremely complex – so complex that scientists are only now beginning to unlock its myriad of secrets. Among its many constituents, chocolate has been found to contain the substances Phenylethylamine and Serotonin, both of which are mood lifting agents. Both occur naturally in the brain and are released into the nervous system when we are feeling happy – they are also released when we are experiencing feelings of love, passion and lust. This causes a rapid mood change, a rise in blood pressure, increasing the heart rate and inducing those feelings of well-being and euphoria that are usually associated with love and lust.
This phenomenon has been scientifically observed and recorded, so it isn’t unreasonable to suppose that it was these observed physical effects that gave rise to the belief of ancient civilisations like the Mayans and Aztec’s that chocolate enhanced sexual prowess, particularly when you consider that chocolate gives an immediate and substantial energy boost, thus increasing sexual stamina. Additionally, both of these substance are mildly addictive which could give us an additional explanation of why cacao was as revered as it was.
Recent research has suggested that women are more susceptible to the effects of Phenylethylamine and Serotonin than men; however, Casanova was said to have consumed vast quantities of chocolate for its aphrodisiac qualities, so perhaps this is not quite true!?
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