A new study finds that salt supports the body’s ability to absorb chocolate's naturally occurring aphrodisiac properties.
All deliciousness aside, we always knew there was something special about the combination of sea salt and chocolate that we just couldn’t put our finger on – until now! Just in time for Valentine’s Day, new research from the National Institute of Food Science (NIFS) has revealed that salt aids in the body’s ability to absorb and process certain aphrodisiacs. For the uninitiated, aphrodisiacs are agents that arouse or increase sexual response or desire, the most notable of which is chocolate.
The study involved more than 20 proven aphrodisiacs including many of the usual suspects – oysters, olive oil, honey, avocado, and figs – but it was chocolate that returned the most intriguing results. The goal of the study was to determine if chemical interactions between certain aphrodisiac and non-aphrodisiac foods alter the body’s response to hormone-boosting properties. Researchers recorded sex hormone levels in subjects before and after ingesting either a randomly selected aphrodisiac or a non-aphrodisiac control. Then for the twist, researchers administered one of the aphrodisiacs in combination with another non-aphrodisiac food in hopes of achieving a compound effect. The non-aphrodisiac foods included a veritable smorgasbord of ordinary condiments, seasonings, and basic pantry necessities such as ketchup, peanut butter, chili pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and of course, salt!
Now, there’s no denying the sensuality of chocolate. The taste, touch, and aroma all spell desire. And it has long been accepted that dark chocolate improves mood by triggering the release of dopamine, a chemical responsible for mediating pleasure in the brain. But these attributes alone fall short of qualifying chocolate as a true aphrodisiac. To earn this title, a food must reliably increase libido, which is usually accomplished by altering hormone levels. In the 1980’s, doctors Donald F. Klein and Michael R. Liebowitz made a strong case for chocolate as an aphrodisiac when they discovered it contains high levels of a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is best known as the brain’s love chemical. When someone is in love, the brain produces PEA, which in turn releases hormones norepinephrine and dopamine to create feelings of euphoria.
However, the doctors’ celebration was short-lived as it was soon discovered that an enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO) rapidly degrades PEA, allowing little to actually reach the brain. But fret not, salt is here to save the day! A profound revelation from the NIFS study indicates that everyday NaCl (that’s science talk for table salt) acts as an effective MAO inhibitor. This means that salt enables the love chemical PEA to remain in the system long enough to take full effect. Or simply put:
CHOCOLATE + SALT = LOVE!!!
So this Valentine’s Day, forget the oysters and do yourself – and that special someone – a favor...pick up some salted dark chocolate!
Congratulations to those of you who made it to the end of this article! For your efforts, you’re rewarded with the knowledge that this story is a complete hoax. The truth remains that chocolate is a great catalyst for romance and while salt makes chocolate even more delicious, it does not make chocolate a more potent aphrodisiac. Yea, I know it's Valentine's Day and not April Fool's, but every holiday deserves a little fun. Just one more reason to always, always, always read the full story!
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