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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Food of the Gods/Devil

Now that I have neglected my blog for a good month or so, I feel that I should write at least ONE post for February. For my fans, alas, I will probably be posting rarely this year as I have a lot of work to do for my PhD (HOORAY!!!) and so I probably won't have the time or inspiration to write. Unless you want to learn about how chimpanzees use space...

Following a post by Leia, I have been thinking about the whole chocolate-is-a-substitute-for-sex thing. And, following a rather fruitless rummage through a text book on biological psychology (What kind of decent text book on psychology doesn't have a section on chocolate?! I mean really...! ), I turned to the faithful Internet for the knowledge which I shall present to you here.

So Leia argued that she was not one to fit the stereotype of chocolate substituting sex. She then went on to describe how she ate chocolate all the time, so it couldn't possibly be related to her libido. As she put it, she ate chocolate whenever she felt, 'tired, frustrated, lonely, etc.'

While the motivation for eating the heavenly gifts of the cocoa plant may not be sexual, it is very interesting to look at the hormones that are released when one eats chocolate. First up, ENDORPHINS!

These are the bodies natural pain killers. According to these guys (they have references, so I am inclined to believe them) endorphins are produced by our body in a variety of circumstances, including pain experience, eating spicy foods, overexposure to light (I'm assuming that refers to sunburn...?), exercise, laughter, crying, stress, acupuncture, shower massagers, calming music, tickling, sex, stimulating the erogenous zones and eating sweet foods, including...drum roll please...chocolate! Interestingly, scalp massage made it's way in there too. That explains why some girls love having their hair washed so much...

Another important chemical is Phenylethylamine. There's an obligatory quiz on all the chemical names at the end of this post...I think I'll just call it 'P' for simplicity's sake. This chemical is naturally found in the brain and is associated with increasing activity in the pleasure centres of the brain by causing the release of dopamine (the happy chemical). This is also produced in relatively high levels during orgasm. They have a strong influence on our mood when found in the brain. However, according to these people, some suggest that chemicals such as P are metabolised long before they get near the brain when taken in through chocolate. It's also found in a number of other foods, including beer, wine and some cheeses.

Interestingly, chocolate also contains cannabinoids, similar chemicals to those found in weed. So, they have the effect of making one feel happy. However, one would have to consume ridiculous quantities of chocolate to get high. The cannabinoids in it are not nearly as strong as those found in cannabis. According to this abstract, some lawyer actually tried this once as a defence against his client dealing and using Mary-Jane. Sadly for him, his defence was shot down in flames...

A well known chemical in chocolate is the caffeine and similar non-caffeine chemicals. I'm not going to say any more apart from the fact that the chemicals occur in very low quantities in chocolate when compared to coffee. Here they claim that 50g of dark chocolate still contains less caffeine than 150ml of tea. Food for thought and whatnot...

So, while the sex-chocolate link isn't exactly gospel, you can still see that chocolate has come very interesting effects on the brain. On the plus side, it also tastes good!
PS. Picture credits; Here, here, here and here.


  1. Yes Luke....chocolate may be sexy, and with all those happy chems you can make love to it...but does it have breasts? ;)

  2. Cam: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Too true!

    (Luke winces, waiting for the inevitable slap from any of the nearby females...)

  3. chocolate breasts...

    you'd figure that'd be a standard flavour.

  4. luke i missed you , man

    chocolate is not a substitute for anything. its a perfectly acceptable thing on its own

    and chocolate breasts. i would never slap you for needing those. pretty awesome