Tag Archives: dark chocolate

Can cocoa products reduce blood pressure or heart disease?

CocoaVia and Cirku are new supplements used for high blood pressure and cardiovascular health according to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD). These products are flavored powders that can be added to a beverage. Each packet contains a cocoa extract providing 350 mg of cocoa flavanols. Those selling the supplements say they may reduce heart disease, but do they? Continue reading

Chocolate: The Love Drug . . . And Why It’s Good for You

For many, Valentine’s Day is the greatest of holidays, because it celebrates love and ardor. One of the most widely offered Valentine’s Day gifts is chocolate. Chocolate is a complex material possessing numerous compounds, which act upon the brain, producing a sense of delight that no other substance can replicate. Continue reading

Largest Study to Date Links Chocolate to Lower Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk

Just in the nick of time — before the Easter chocolate consumption begins, comes a study letting us know that a small amount of that dark Easter chocolate may be heart healthy. Just released is the largest observational study to date looking at the association between chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease. And the researchers have announced … drum roll please … that those who ate the most chocolate — around 7.5 g (about a quarter of an ounce) per day — had a 39% lower risk of MI and stroke than individuals who ate almost no chocolate.

Here are the details from an article in MedScape:

Lead author Dr Brian Buijsse (German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany) told HeartWire, “This shows that habitual consumption of chocolate is related to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke that is partly explained by blood-pressure reduction. The risk reduction is stronger for stroke than for MI, which is logical because it appears that chocolate and cocoa have a pronounced effect on BP, and BP is a higher risk factor for stroke than for MI.”

Buijsse and colleagues report their findings online March 31, 2010 in the European Heart Journal. However, Buijsse cautions that only small amounts of chocolate were associated with the benefits and it is too early to give recommendations on chocolate consumption.

“Maybe it’s a boring message, but it’s a little too early to come up with recommendations, because chocolate contains so many calories and sugar, and obesity is already an epidemic. We have to be careful.”

However, he added, that if people did want to treat themselves, they would be better off choosing small amounts of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate, over other sweet snacks. “We know it is the cocoa content in chocolate that is important, so the higher the cocoa content, the better.”

Dr Steffen Desch (University of Leipzig, Heart Center, Germany), who was not involved with this study but who has performed research on the effects of chocolate on blood pressure, told HeartWire, “This is an interesting study that adds to the growing body of evidence that flavanol-rich chocolate might be associated with health benefits. Several epidemiological studies (including the Zuphten Elderly Study, by the same first author) and even more physiological trials have been published before.”

“What is missing now is a large-scale randomized trial of flavanol-rich chocolate versus control. The most reasonable end point would probably be the change in blood pressure between groups.” However, Desch added, “the major problems in designing such a study are the lack of funding and finding an appropriate control substance. To the best of my knowledge, there is no commercially available flavanol-free chocolate that offers the distinct bitter taste and dark color inherent to cocoa-rich chocolate.”

But, the best news from this study is that the biggest chocolate consumers had the lowest blood pressure and half the risk of stroke.

“Our hypothesis was that because chocolate appears to have a pronounced effect on blood pressure, chocolate consumption would lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, with a stronger effect being seen for stroke,” explained Buijsse.

The researchers found that lower baseline blood pressure explained 12% of the reduced risk of the combined outcome, but even after taking this into account, those in the top quartile still had their risk reduced by a third (32%) compared with those in the bottom quartile over the duration of the study.

To put this in terms of absolute risk, Buijsse said if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate increased their chocolate intake by 6 g a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years.

He says it appears that flavanols in chocolate are responsible for the beneficial effects, causing the release of nitric oxide, which contributes to lower BP and improves platelet function.

Dr Frank Ruschitzka (University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland) agrees. He said in a European Society of Cardiology statement, “Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a cocoa content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function.”

NOTE: Only small amounts of chocolate were beneficial; so don’t eat too much.

Buissje said this work builds on his earlier small trial — the Zuphten Elderly Study — performed in 500 men in Holland, which showed that chocolate consumption lowered overall cardiovascular mortality.

“Due to the small size of this study, we were not able to differentiate between stroke and MI in this, but now we are able to look at stroke and MI separately, so it’s a nice addition,” he notes.

And the findings are in line with an intervention study that showed that eating around 6 g of chocolate a day — one small square of a 100-g bar — might lower CV disease risk, he says. “So the effects are achieved with very small amounts.”

British Heart Foundation dietician Victoria Taylor made the same point in a press statement: “It’s important to read the small print with this study. The amount consumed on average by even the highest consumers was about one square of chocolate a day or half a small chocolate Easter egg in a week, so the benefits were associated with a fairly small amount of chocolate.

“Some people will be tempted to eat more than one square; however, chocolate has high amounts of calories and saturated fat . . . two of the key risk factors for heart disease,” she noted.

Ruschitzka similarly urged caution: “Before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100 g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain.”

April 1, 2010 (Nuthetal, Germany) — The largest observational study so far to examine the association between chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease has found that those who ate the most chocolate–around 7.5 g per day–had a 39% lower risk of MI and stroke than individuals who ate almost no chocolate (1.7 g per day) [1].
Lead author Dr Brian Buijsse (German Institute of Human Nutrition, Nuthetal, Germany) told heartwire : “This shows that habitual consumption of chocolate is related to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke that is partly explained by blood-pressure reduction. The risk reduction is stronger for stroke than for MI, which is logical because it appears that chocolate and cocoa have a pronounced effect on BP, and BP is a higher risk factor for stroke than for MI.” Buijsse and colleagues report their findings online March 31, 2010 in the European Heart Journal.
However, Buijsse cautions that only small amounts of chocolate were associated with the benefits and it is too early to give recommendations on chocolate consumption: “Maybe it’s a boring message, but it’s a little too early to come up with recommendations, because chocolate contains so many calories and sugar, and obesity is already an epidemic. We have to be careful.” However, he added, that if people did want to treat themselves, they would be better off choosing small amounts of chocolate, preferably dark chocolate, over other sweet snacks. “We know it is the cocoa content in chocolate that is important, so the higher the cocoa content, the better.”
Dr Steffen Desch (University of Leipzig, Heart Center, Germany), who was not involved with this study but who has performed research on the effects of chocolate on blood pressure, told heartwire : “This is an interesting study that adds to the growing body of evidence that flavanol-rich chocolate might be associated with health benefits. Several epidemiological studies (including the Zuphten Elderly Study, by the same first author) and even more physiological trials have been published before.”
“What is missing now is a large-scale randomized trial of flavanol-rich chocolate versus control. The most reasonable end point would probably be the change in blood pressure between groups.” However, Desch added, “the major problems in designing such a study are the lack of funding and finding an appropriate control substance. To the best of my knowledge, there is no commercially available flavanol-free chocolate that offers the distinct bitter taste and dark color inherent to cocoa-rich chocolate.”
Biggest Chocolate Consumers Had Lowest Blood Pressure
Buijsse and colleagues followed 19 357 people, aged between 35 and 65, who were participants in the Potsdam arm of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC). They received medical checks, including blood pressure and height and weight measurements at the start of the study (1994–1998), and they also answered questions about their diet, lifestyle, and health, including how frequently they ate 50-g bars of chocolate.
The research was conducted before the health benefits of chocolate and cocoa were recognized, so no differentiation was made between milk, dark, and white chocolate in the study. But in a subset analysis of 1568 participants later asked to recall their chocolate intake over a 24-hour period, 57% ate milk chocolate, 24% dark chocolate, and 2% white chocolate.
Participants were divided into quartiles according to their level of chocolate consumption. Those in the top quartile, eating around 7.5 g of chocolate a day, had blood pressure that was about 1 mm Hg (systolic) and 0.9 mm Hg (diastolic) lower than those in the bottom quartile.
In follow-up questionnaires, sent out every two or three years until December 2006, the participants were asked whether they had had a heart attack or stroke, information that was subsequently verified by medical records from general physicians or hospitals. Death certificates from those who had died were also used to identify MIs and strokes.
“Our hypothesis was that because chocolate appears to have a pronounced effect on blood pressure, chocolate consumption would lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, with a stronger effect being seen for stroke,” explained Buijsse.
Those Eating Most Chocolate Had Half the Risk of Stroke
During the eight years, there were 166 MIs (24 fatal) and 136 strokes (12 fatal); people in the top quartile had a 27% reduced risk of MI and nearly half the risk (48%) of stroke, compared with those in the lowest quartile. The relative risk of the combined outcome of MI and stroke for top vs bottom quartile was 0.61 (p=0.014).
The researchers found that lower baseline blood pressure explained 12% of the reduced risk of the combined outcome, but even after taking this into account, those in the top quartile still had their risk reduced by a third (32%) compared with those in the bottom quartile over the duration of the study.
To put this in terms of absolute risk, Buijsse said if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate increased their chocolate intake by 6 g a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10 000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years.
He says it appears that flavanols in chocolate are responsible for the beneficial effects, causing the release of nitric oxide, which contributes to lower BP and improves platelet function.
Dr Frank Ruschitzka (University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland) agrees. He said in a European Society of Cardiology statement [2]: “Basic science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a cocoa content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function.”
Only Small Amounts of Chocolate Beneficial; Don’t Eat Too Much
Buissje said this work builds on his earlier small trial–the Zuphten Elderly Study–performed in 500 men in Holland, which showed that chocolate consumption lowered overall cardiovascular mortality. “Due to the small size of this study, we were not able to differentiate between stroke and MI in this, but now we are able to look at stroke and MI separately, so it’s a nice addition,” he notes.
And the findings are in line with an intervention study that showed that eating around 6 g of chocolate a day–one small square of a 100-g bar–might lower CV disease risk, he says. “So the effects are achieved with very small amounts.”
British Heart Foundation dietician Victoria Taylor made the same point: “It’s important to read the small print with this study. The amount consumed on average by even the highest consumers was about one square of chocolate a day or half a small chocolate Easter egg in a week, so the benefits were associated with a fairly small amount of chocolate.
“Some people will be tempted to eat more than one square; however, chocolate has high amounts of calories and saturated fat . . . two of the key risk factors for heart disease,” she noted in a statement [3].
Ruschitzka similarly urged caution: “Before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100 g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain.”

How to Make Chocolate a Healthy Indulgence

The benefits of being a chocolate lover
From Health magazine
This ultimate feel-good food keeps your heart healthy, mood up, and body in great shape. Find out what all this natural ingredient can do for you.

Here’s a just-in-time-for-Easter article on the benefits of being a chocolate lover from Health magazine. This ultimate feel-good food, in moderation, can keep your heart healthy, your mood up, and your body in great shape. Read on to find out what all this natural health food can do for you.

Heart helper

Chocotini, anyone? A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who ate dark chocolate had less of a protein that indicates inflammation, which can lead to a heart attack. A more recent study showed that just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.

Mood booster

There’s a good reason we crave chocolate when we’re down. Its tryptophan ups mood-lifting serotonin in the brain. One study found that even the taste, texture, and smell make us happy.

Skin soother

For a spa treat, try this bath from Lauren Cox’s Eco Beauty: Combine 2 cups chocolate milk, 2 tablespoons mild liquid soap, and 1 tablespoon honey; pour mixture into the bathtub. The chocolate milk’s lactic acid and antioxidants smooth and soften your skin.

Cravings buster

University of Copenhagen researchers published a study showing that subjects felt fuller and craved fewer sweet, salty, and fatty foods when they snacked on chocolate (yes!). Be sure to choose dark chocolate: Its low glycemic index steadies blood sugar levels, cutting cravings.

And remember, too much of a good thing …

You can read my other blogs on chocolate here:

You can learn more about becoming happier and more highly healthy in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy:

  • You can order a copy here.
  • You can look at the Table of Contents here.
  • You can read the first chapter of the book here.
  • And, if you’re part of a reading group or small-group, there’s a reader’s guide available here.

Dark chocolate Easter eggs good for your heart?

Easter eggs and other chocolate may be good for you – at least in small quantities and preferably if it’s dark chocolate – according to research that shows just one small square of chocolate a day can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. The study is published online in the European Heart Journal.

Researchers in Germany followed 19,357 people, aged between 35 and 65, for at least ten years, and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate – an average of 7.5 grams a day – had lower blood pressure and a 39% lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate – an average of 1.7 grams a day.

The difference between the two groups amounts to six grams of chocolate: the equivalent of less than one small square of a 100g bar.

For those who believe in the Easter bunny (or at least in what he is believed to bring), good news awaits.
Just one small square of chocolate a day might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease.
After analyzing the diet and health habits of 19,357 people, aged 35 to 65, for at least 10 years, German researchers found that those who ate the most chocolate (an average of 7.5 grams, or 0.3 ounces, a day) had lower blood pressure and were 39 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who ate the least amount of chocolate (an average of 1.7 grams, or 0.06 ounces, a day).
“To put that in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate [of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke] increased their chocolate intake by 6 grams [0.2 ounces] a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years,” study leader Dr. Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, said in a news release from the European Heart Journal, which published the findings online Tuesday.
“If the 39 percent lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher,” he said.
Six grams of chocolate is equivalent to about one small square of a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) bar, the researchers said.
But Buijsse cautioned that eating chocolate shouldn’t increase a person’s overall intake of calories or reduce the consumption of healthy foods.
“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” he said.

According to a report by HealthDay News, “To put that in terms of absolute risk, if people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate [of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke] increased their chocolate intake by 6 grams [0.2 ounces] a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about 10 years,” study leader Dr. Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition.

“If the 39 percent lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher,” he said.

Six grams of chocolate is equivalent to about one small square of a 100 gram (3.5 ounce) bar, the researchers said.

But Buijsse cautioned that eating chocolate shouldn’t increase a person’s overall intake of calories or reduce the consumption of healthy foods.

“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” he said.

But, for this Easter weekend, my prescription is a little bit of dark chocolate. Consider it doing your heart a bit of good — in more ways than one.

Have a blessed Easter everyone.

Superfoods for Women

Most of us love to eat great food. But, we also want to feel great. Can we do both? You bet you can if you choose foods that make you energetic, smarter, leaner, and stronger — and then use them the right way in your daily eating habits. To help you accomplish that, here’s a story reported by CBS News. Registered dietician Frances Largeman-Roth, the senior food and nutrition editor for Health Magazine, made these suggestions on “The Early Show” about what she considered some of the top “superfoods” for women:

What are “superfoods”? As Largeman-Roth explained, the list comes from Health magazine’s experts.

“We went to our experts and said, ‘If you had to compile a list of 10 superfoods based on nutrient profiles and research, what would you choose?'” Health magazine went through the answers and, based on the responses, came up with this list:

  1. Wild salmon
  2. Oats
  3. Wild blueberries
  4. Walnuts
  5. Broccoli
  6. Greek yogurt
  7. Olive oil
  8. Dark chocolate
  9. Avocado
  10. Red beans

Largeman-Roth says superfoods go beyond just eating food for energy. “These foods,” she said, “are like the supermodels and superathletes for the food world, giving you the biggest bang for your buck, as far as health goes.”

Salmon, she said, is important for its heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Largeman-Roth explained omega 3’s also boost mood and fight depression and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, salmon has vitamin D which is another essential nutrient that we’re not getting enough of. Largeman-Roth, citing the American Heart Association recommendation, said people should eat 2, 3 to 4-ounce servings of salmon per week.

Oats, another superfood, helps lower cholesterol. In addition, Largeman-Roth said, oats help you feel full – a key component for a weight loss or weight maintenance diet. “I’m a big fan of steel cut oats — they’re a bit higher in fiber,” she said. “But you should get them any way you can. Instant is fine, just don’t get too much sugar. They’re another example of a very versatile food: you can supplement them with other foods (yogurt) or use them to make cookies or pancakes.”

Greek yogurt also made the list, Largeman-Roth said because of its calcium content. Greek yogurt, she explained, is triple strained, meaning it has three times the amount of milk, meaning its good for your bones. Just one serving, she said, provides nearly a quarter of a woman’s daily calcium needs. She added women should have three servings of dairy per day, so Greek yogurt should make up one of those servings.

Superfoods also extend to nuts – walnuts, that is. Not only are walnuts delicious, they are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and omega-3s, according to Health magazine. Eating just a handful a day, Largeman-Roth said, can help lower your cholesterol, boost brain power, help you sleep better and cope with stress. Walnuts may also prevent heart disease and fight cancer. She said you need about an ounce a day — about 10 whole walnuts.

Why did olive oil make the Health magazine list? Olive oil is another heart-healthy food, Largeman-Roth said, but it also can help with longevity. “The Mediterranean diet has long been linked to heart health and longevity,” she said. “This diet protects against Alzheimer’s disease, but also helps with mild fuzzy thinking.” She said you can use olive oil in a variety of ways, from drizzling it on top of pasta to using it as a salad dressing or as a substitute for butter on bread.

Some vegetables and fruits also appear on the Health magazine list, including blue berries and broccoli. Blueberries, Largeman-Roth said, are great because they’re super high in antioxidants. “They can help prevent memory loss and improve motor skills and even fight wrinkles,” she said. “They’re an all-natural anti-aging remedy.” Blueberries also may be used in a variety of ways: as a savory sauce to go with meat or fish, or you can eat them plain. She recommended buying frozen blueberries to save money if fresh blueberries aren’t in season. Plus, with frozen berries, Largeman-Roth noted, you can keep them in the freezer, and take them out when you need them. To achieve the maximum effects of blueberries, eat a cup a day.

As for broccoli, this vegetable is considered a superfood because it may potentially help fight breast cancer by reducing levels of excess estrogen. “It’s also rich in vitamin C and a good source of Vitamin A,” Largeman-Roth said. “Broccoli helps you feel full on less than 30 calories per serving. Broccoli and salmon can make a great superfood pairing. You should be eating two or more half-cup servings of cooked broccoli per week.”

Red beans also appear on the list, a food that Largeman-Roth said is an often overlooked food, which ranks high on the ORAC scale for antioxidants. “(They’re) packed with protein, folate, minerals and fiber, including resistant starch,” she said. “They’re also very affordable food and very versatile. You can use them in burritos, dips, etc.” You should eat three cups a week to reap the health rewards.

Avocados made the list, too. Rich in mono-unsaturated fats, avocados, Largeman-Roth said, can help you lose belly fat. “You can eat it plain, or make soup with it, or whip up some guacamole. You can add it do a salad also,” she said. “It is high in calories so you want to stick to a half an avocado a day. It also makes a great baby food — I feed it to my baby.”

But superfoods aren’t all about fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate, a decadent dessert, also appears in the Health list. Rich in antioxidants, Largeman-Roth said dark chocolate can help strengthen bones, and according to some studies, reduce blood pressure. However, you shouldn’t overdo the dark chocolate. Largeman-Roth said only chocolate that’s 70 percent cocoa will work, and you should only eat a quarter of an ounce a day – about two small squares.

Consuming one serving of chocolate every week may reduce stroke risk

Just in time for your Valentine’s weekend, a new report indicating that chocolate may both cut your risk of a stroke and reduce the risk of death after a stroke. And, the effect may only require one small serving of dark chocolate a week.

USA Today reports, “A new analysis, which involved a review of three prior studies, suggests eating about a bar of chocolate a week can help cut the risk of stroke and lower the risk of death after a stroke.”

Researchers in Canada explained that “one study they looked at found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22% less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate.”

A second study showed that “1,169 people who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week were 46% less likely to die following a stroke.”

A third study, however, “found no association between chocolate consumption and risk of death from stroke,” WebMD reported.

Nevertheless, investigators say “more research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others.”

Moreover, the study participants “did not identify what kind of chocolate they had eaten,” the Canadian Press reported. HealthDay also covered the study.

You can read my other blogs on chocolate here:

You can learn more about becoming happier and more highly healthy in my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy:

  • You can order a copy here.
  • You can look at the Table of Contents here.
  • You can read the first chapter of the book here.
  • And, if you’re part of a reading group or small-group, there’s a reader’s guide available here.

Seven Foods for Better Sex

For this Valentine’s Day weekend, some more advice for our married readers from my friends at Health.com, written by Julie Upton, RD, on how you can improve your diet and your sex life at the same time. Knock out two birds with one stone:

Enough about oysters, already!

If you want to put some sizzle back into your sex life, food can help you set the mood. There’s nothing better than a romantic, home-cooked dinner, featuring some R-rated foods to help turn up the heat.

“There’s a growing body of evidence that some of the vitamins and components in foods can enhance sexual function and sexual experience,” says Jennifer R. Berman, MD, director of the Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Here are some of the food ingredients (and my own favorite recipes) that have been major players in aphrodisiac history and lore—and also have modern-day science to help back up their claims.

Avocado

The Aztecs referred to avocados as, ahem, testicles, because of their physical shape. But the scientific reason why avocados make sense as an aphrodisiac is that they are rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat, making them good for your heart and your arteries.

Anything that keeps the heart beating strong helps keep blood flowing to all the right places; in fact, men with underlying heart disease are twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED).

Almonds

Topping my of feisty foods, almonds have long been purported to increase passion, act as a sexual stimulant, and aid with fertility. Like asparagus (another one of my favorite sexy foods), almonds are nutrient-dense and rich in several trace minerals that are important for sexual health and reproduction, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamin E.  “Zinc helps enhance libido and sexual desire,” says Dr. Berman. “We don’t really understand the mechanisms behind it, but we know it works.”

Strawberries

The color red is known to help stoke the fire: A 2008 study found that men find women sexier if they’re wearing red, as opposed to “cool” colors such as blue or green.

Strawberries are also an excellent source of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps ward off birth defects in women and, according to a University of California, Berkley study, may be tied to high sperm counts in men.

This Valentine’s Day, try making dark chocolate–dipped strawberries. And while we’re on the subject, there’s a reason we give dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day: It’s full of libido-boosting methylzanthines.

Seafood

Despite their slippery and slimy texture, oysters may be the most well-known aphrodisiac. They’re also one of the best sources of libido-boosting zinc. But other types of seafood can also act as aphrodisiacs.  Oily fish—like wild salmon and herring—contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for a healthy heart.

Arugula

Arugula has been heralded as an arousal aid since the first century. Today, research reveals that the trace minerals and antioxidants packed into dark, leafy greens are essential for our sexual health because they help block absorption of some of the environmental contaminants thought to negatively impacting our libido.

Figs

These funny-shaped fruits have a long history of being a fertility booster, and they make an excellent aphrodisiac because they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is important for heart health. Plus, high-fiber foods help fill you up, not out, so it’s easier to achieve that sexy bottom line—or belly.

Citrus

Any member of this tropical fruit family is super-rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and folic acid—all of which are essential for men’s reproductive health. Enjoy a romantic salad that incorporates citrus, like pink grapefruit or mandarin oranges, or use a dressing made with lemon and lime.

You can learn more about becoming happier and more highly healthy by reading my book 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People.

  • You can order a copy here.
  • You can look at the Table of Contents here.
  • You can read the first chapter of the book here.
  • And, if you’re part of a reading group or small-group, there’s a reader’s guide available here.