Valentine’s Day Chocolate



Photo: old.wallcoo.net

Elliander Eldridge

Staff Writer

When thinking of a sweet gift for your sweetheart, you might be thinking of giving him/her a heart-shaped box full of chocolate, but if you are looking to enamor your partner, you may want to carefully consider the type of chocolate you give.

Chocolate contains PEA (phenylethylamine), a chemical related to amphetamines. PEA is believed to create a sense of well-being by making the brain release b-endorphin, an opioid peptide. PEA is also known as the natural “love drug” because it is what our brain normally releases when we fall in love. Chocolate also contains N-acylethanolamines which is believed to temporarily increase levels of Anandamide, a neurotransmitter released by the brain when we feel happy.

A 2007 study at the Mind Lab showed that chocolate caused a more intense and longer lasting “buzz” than kissing. Dr. David Lewis, head of the study, described it as “a buzz that, in many cases, lasted four times as long as the most passionate kiss.” In this study, chocolate was allowed to melt on the tongue which maximized the benefits.

As reported by The Times on November 14, 2004, “According to Italian researchers, women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who deny themselves the treat. Those consuming the sugary snack had the highest levels of desire, arousal, and satisfaction from sex.”

A study published on September 15, 2011, by Wayne State University in Detroit showed that small amounts of dark chocolate boosts the mitochondria in cells, increasing energy and endurance. It was also found to increase the number of capillaries that transport oxygen to the muscles. Mice who had just been fed epicatechin extract performed as well as those who had been training regularly, but

Dr. Moh Malek says, “Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response – particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles.” He cautions, “At the moment, it would be a leap of faith to say the same effects would be seen in humans. But it is something we hope to identify in future studies.” The study suggests that if effective in humans there would be no benefits beyond one ounce per day, so moderation is key.

The USDA system called ORAC ( Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity ) measures the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.  According to nutritiondata.com, one ounce of 70 percent dark chocolate has 19 percent of the daily iron required, while an ounce of beef only has 3 percent. Many women crave chocolate during their time of the month, in part because of their increased iron requirements. Raw cacao is also a top source of magnesium which helps to reduce the symptoms of PMS. Taken in moderation, the Mao Inhibitors and PEA in chocolate curbs appetite which may in turn encourage weight loss. Dr. Gabriel Cousins of the Tree of Life foundation believes that Mao Inhibitors may also facilitate youthful regeneration.

Despite the many benefits, too much chocolate can lead to health problems. Cacao is very high in fat and has the potential to interfere with normal function of the liver and adrenal glands. It also contains caffeine, so its overuse can lead to anxiety, rapid heart rate, and insomnia in the short-term; with addiction, arrhythmias (heart rate disorder), and chronic fatigue being potential consequence of long-term overconsumption. David Wolfe claims in his book, “Superfoods: The Good and Medicine of the Future,” that a low intake of cocoa would account to 3 to 4 cacao beans for every 100 pounds of body weight (or about one ounce of dark chocolate per day). You can enjoy all the benefits and none of the problems if you remind yourself to eat responsibly.

Taken together, these studies tell us that giving chocolate to our sweethearts on a regular basis will probably make them feel sensations of love, happiness, passion, and sexual desire while filling her with energy and boosting her stamina. At this point, you might be wondering what the problem is. The problem is simply that only one type of chocolate provides these benefits and that type is rarely seen in the heart-shaped box. All of the above benefits come from cacao solids. Since white chocolate contains no cacao solids it has no benefits. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is made with cacao solids but the process of making milk chocolate destroys many of the above mentioned benefits while the Casein in milk binds polyphenols rendering them ineffective. Dark chocolate is the only type of chocolate with the full range of nutritional benefits. The more concentrated the cacao solids in a box of dark chocolate, the higher the percent rating on the bar. The reason why the best chocolate is left out is a matter of taste. To most people, milk chocolate just tastes better. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Dark-chocolate comes in a variety made with “rice milk” which tastes as good as, or better than, milk chocolate, while retaining all of the benefits of dark chocolate; it is also a thoughtful gift sweethearts who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

 

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The Bridge is the student-run newspaper of Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey, Illinois. We publish relevant, informative stories in a monthly print edition that focus on local events as well as global happenings. In addition, the online edition of The Bridge (thelcbridge) is updated frequently to reflect new information and more timely events.
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