Did Freud mention you should eat more chocolate?…Well, you should, anyway!
Still feeling guilty about all the Valentine’s Day candy you ate? Freud’s here to help!
Wondering what the Freud to do with all your leftover chocolate? Just eat it dummy! For your health!
As we’ve told you before, psychologists have a long-standing fascination with chocolate. We’re only human too, after all; we’re just unusually good at rationalizing our impulses! But what if we told you there’s actually plenty of good reason to indulge your craving for chocolate?
Yeah, we know you love us.
Now look out, cuz here comes that sweet, sweet science…
Chocolate, as most of us know already, is derived from cocoa beans. Therein lies the active ingredient: epicatechin! Epicatechin is a catechin, which are flavanols, which belong to the broader class of flavonoids, which belong to the even broader class of polyphenols. Many varieties of this good stuff are also present in red wine, green tea, strawberries, and many other things you already like to consume, and you may have heard are also surprisingly good for you. Rationalizers rejoice!
Conveniently enough, many sources of flavonoids happen to pair pretty well too!
You are getting hungry…verrry hunnngry… @_@
Unfortunately, flavonoids can be bitter, so instead of just eating straight cacao nibs, most of us (but not all of us!) like to cut our cocoa with milk (as in milk chocolate, not just as in hot cocoa). The true misfortune is that this may negate some of the health benefits I’m about to get into. So if you want the best bang for your chocolate coin, stick with the dark chocolate—the darker the better! And if you’re a fan of white chocolate, you should already know to be ashamed of yourself.
Shame on you white chocolate! It’s your fault I lose at Scrabble!
Anyway, if you’ve been doing your WTFreud homework, you already know chocolate (and polyphenols in general) may improve heart health. In part, that’s because they prevent blood clotting, kinda like aspirin—bad news for hemophiliacs, but good news for you! (If you’re a hemophiliac, I’m doubly sorry.) But wait, there’s more! Polyphenols in chocolate also open up blood vessels and decrease blood pressure. They can even improve your cholesterol levels (by boosting your good, high-density lipoproteins and cutting your bad, low-density lipoproteins, like niacin)! Did we mention you get all these effects by eating chocolate? I for one can hardly think of a way I’d rather take my medicine…
Nope. Yer doin’ it wrong. Though I do hear it’s a pretty good moisturizer!
So perhaps now you’re thinking, what the Freud does this have to do with psychology? Well, maybe if you ate a little more chocolate you’d have figured it out already! Know what other organ benefits from improved blood flow? No no no…not that organ, your brain! Sheesh…some of us may be less concerned with getting old than with getting some, but stay focused for just a minute.
Blood clots don’t just cause heart problems, they cause strokes. (And embolisms, which can kill you too!) And blood brings oxygen to the brain, which makes the crucial difference between winning that underwater chess match and drowning! You see, brain oxygenation isn’t just a matter of survival, it’s a matter of cognition. Better oxygenation means better memory, sharper attention, clearer thinking, and at sufficient levels, maybe even a little bonus euphoria (think oxygen bars)!
Nope. Still doin’ it wrong. Why stick a tube up your nose when you can just eat more chocolate??
Now I know you think you’re pretty smart, and I’m sure you are, but if you don’t need better memory and clearer cognition, know who might? Your poor old grandparents whom you keep forgetting to call! Yeah, maybe now you’re thinking you could use better memory, but just wait until you have dementia! If that doesn’t get you on board the chocolate conga line, I don’t know what will…but I’ve got a few more incentives for you.
How can you NOT want to join the chocolate conga line? You monster, you!
How would you like to have an aneurysm? Not so much? Then I say again unto you, eat yer chocolate! Keeping your arteries in shape isn’t just about improving your cholesterol, like chocolate can; it’s also about preventing diabetes, like chocolate can!! Of course, if you’ve already got diabetes, probably better to reach for the cacao nibs than the chocolate bar with added sugar. Oh, and by the way, it’ll also reduce inflammation, which you should also be worrying about as you get older…AND…one more…while it’s doing all this hard work for your health, it’ll even help you keep cancer off your colon and prostate!
Chocolate may be scary enough to send cancer running with its tail between its legs (instead of yours),
but if you know the score, chocolate will be more afraid of you!
Okay, I’m finally done talking about health and aging gracefully. We can move on to what you care about. Yes, that organ. Now, I’m not saying chocolate will improve blood flow to your nether regions too, but I’m not not saying that, am I? My own wishful thinking aside, perhaps you’ve heard elsewhere that chocolate is an aphrodisiac! That claim pertains to another (potentially) active ingredient, phenethylamine, in part because it resembles other amphetamines, which you may have heard even more about.
However, due to the action of monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B, the cousin of another enzyme with other psychological relevance we’ve mentioned previously), very little of the phenethylamine in the chocolate you eat actually reaches your brain (the concentration in chocolate may also have been exaggerated). But before you start cursing the cruel god that filled your guts with stupid enzymes that don’t want you to have any fun, do consider what favors monoamine oxidase has done for you, and think twice about filling your head with phenethylamine by other means. It might just turn you into a paranoid schizophrenic!
Contrary to appearances, chocolate did not turn this boy into a paranoid schizophrenic.
This is the appropriate reaction when someone tries to take your chocolate!
Again, this doesn’t mean chocolate is definitely not an aphrodisiac. If you ask me, this just means we need to conduct further experimentation!! Who knows, maybe we should be considering other methods of chocolate administration after all! Anything’s worth trying once, right?
Yup. I stand corrected.
This is clearly the right idea.
Three cheers for chocolate!