Eating Chocolate Has An Unexpected Effect On A Man's Sex Life

Whether you're watching a particularly sultry advertisement on TV about chocolate or you've tried out the sex chocolates that are on the market (meant to enhance pleasure and naturally boost your sex drive), the association of chocolate as an aphrodisiac or food for sexual health goes back to pre-Columbian Mesoamerican times in central Mexico and the Mayan civilization. 

But does chocolate actually have an effect on someone's sex life? Does it go beyond the simple pleasure of just relishing the food? Turns out, consuming dark chocolate could indirectly help men out in the bedroom, and it all has to do with the unexpected effect dark chocolate has on your heart. Dark chocolate contains a significantly higher concentration of flavonoids when compared with milk chocolate, and flavonoids are thought to be one of the more beneficial dietary compounds to improve erectile dysfunction (ED), per a 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Researchers think flavonoids help by relaxing your arteries and promoting better blood flow throughout your body. For men, this means improved blood flow to their nether regions. Flavonoids also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels; high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol levels are associated with ED. What about the other claims about dark chocolate and your sex drive? 

Is dark chocolate an aphrodisiac?

Some claim that the high cocoa content in dark chocolate also means a higher concentration of the endorphin-boosting compound phenylethylamine. There is also a theory about how certain chemicals found in dark chocolate help slow down the metabolism of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid in your brain that works similar to how THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) does, boosting dopamine production. Dark chocolate contains trace elements of anandamide too, although this negligible amount is unlikely to have any effect on dopamine production. 

Additionally, dark chocolate is thought to contain more theobromine than milk chocolate. Theobromine is considered a stimulant and could boost energy levels. More energy could mean longer-lasting activity in the bedroom for men. 

Another way in which dark chocolate could help improve low sex drive in men also has to do with dark chocolate's unexpected link with depression. Dark chocolate contains a good amount of the serotonin-boosting amino acid tryptophan, and when your brain is producing more serotonin, you might be in a better mood and even experience sexual desire. According to licensed psychotherapist, cognitive neuroscientist, and certified sex therapist Nan Wise (via Well+Good), there isn't solid scientific proof to back the sexual arousal effects of dark chocolate; however, the mood-boosting effect could lead to enhanced intimacy. "The most important sex organ is your brain," explained the expert. If your brain is happy and relaxed, your body might be more inclined to engage in sex too. 

Consuming dark chocolate for better sex: Things to think about

Not all chocolates are made alike. This is where the debate between dark chocolate and milk chocolate comes in. Since dark chocolate contains a higher concentration of cocoa, it is also thought to have more flavanols (a subclass of flavonoids), along with other nutrients like fiber, vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium. It's also lower in sugar and fat than milk chocolate.

That being said, there is some concern over just how much of its healthy nutrients, namely polyphenols and flavonoids, are lost during the manufacturing process. There are also data from Consumer Reports that highlight concerning levels of heavy metals, specifically cadmium and lead, in popular brands of dark chocolate. Consistent exposure to these heavy metals could lead to nervous system issues, hypertension, immune system malfunction, kidney damage, and reproductive issues.

What needs to be highlighted here is that if you're thinking about adding dark chocolate to your diet for its supposed benefits to your sex life, go for the kinds that contain 70% to 80% or higher cocoa concentrations, and research the manufacturing process if possible. Also, even though it's healthier than milk chocolate, dark chocolate still contains sugar and fat and can be a high-calorie food, so overconsumption of the treat is not recommended. Moderation is key. If your problems in the bedroom are being caused by underlying health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, seek the advice of a healthcare provider before turning to treats like chocolates.