Dark chocolate contains caffeine, theobromine and phenethylamine. These compounds stimulate the central nervous system, help increase blood flow to the brain and trigger the release of mood-boosting endorphins and neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical linked to sexual arousal and pleasure. That sounds very scientific but we’ll take it!
Plenty of benes
Researchers say the powerful antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate can help:
• lower risk for heart disease and stroke by improving blood circulation and cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure
• reduce inflammatory action and insulin resistance
• sharpen concentration and focus
• handle stressful situations
• protect against sun damage (though it’s no excuse not to use sunscreen)
Yep, that’s right. A daily dose of dark chocolate (no more than 45g) can help curb appetite and help you feel satisfied. It’ll also lessen cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. Caveat: chocolate is still high in calories and fat, so stick to the recommended portion.
Why not treat yourself to the absolute best? Look for homegrown and handmade, with few ingredients on the label. Check out the following peeps who take their chocolate very seriously:
A chip off the old block
Yes to: Dark chocolate made using at least 70 per cent cocoa. The higher the percentage, the less sugar and fat it contains and the more intense the flavour. Good-quality dark chocolate has a high sheen, satisfying snap when broken and melts sensuously in your mouth.
No to: Milk, white or cheap compound chocolate. Sorry, no deal. They’re not the same. (White chocolate isn’t even really chocolate!)
Gift of the gods
Ancient Aztecs believed cacao seeds were a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom. They were consumed primarily as a drink mixed with spices and wine and thought to have aphrodisiac powers. Just as you suspected, right?
For an inspired dessert, pick up a chocolate fondue or melting pot. Dip fresh strawberries in sensuous dark chocolate – you could even hand-feed them to your paramour. Whatever else you decide to do with that melted goodness is strictly your private business!
Did you know?
Chocolate is made by fermenting, roasting and grinding the cocoa seeds from the theobroma cacao plant – aka the chocolate tree!