Aphrodisiacs tend to come from a strange source or have a strange flavour or texture (think of oysters), apart from my favourite natural aphrodisiac: chocolate! it has a rich comforting texture, a rich brown colour with a flavour with no equals. In fact its botanical name reflects its superb qualities:  theobroma cacao, the food of the goods.

To me the cacao plant was one of the most revolutionary discoveries brought by the new world. In South and Central America the Mayas and Aztecs had a long tradition of processing and drinking cacao, possibly sweetened with wild bees honey and blended with spices. Archeological records show how cacao was connected to several gods, and even Xochiquetzal, the Goddess of Love, is portrayed decorating the cacao plant with flowers. Quite a sign of reverence.

As soon as cacao was introduced in Europe in the 1500s, it spread like wild fire, thanks also to the sugar added that transformed its original bitterness. Since then the demand for cacao has increased dramatically and after over 500 years of use there is no sign of its decline, on the contrary.

My scientific mind makes me wonder what makes cacao so special and why it is such an amazing natural aphrodisiac and comfort food. What I found is an incredible combination of feel good molecules:

Tryptophan, an essential amino acid precursor to seratonin, the happy molecule

Phenylethylalamine, a stimulant for the pleasure centres in the brain

Anandamide, a neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors with the effect of relaxing the muscles and the skin and stimulating good mood

Three feel good molecules in one plant, you can tell cacao is for a goddess. On top of these feel good molecules cacao contains powerful antioxidants that help to fight oxidative stress and free radicals, for vital health and wellbeing. Now we know why it is called food for the gods, it makes you fell like one!

Don’t forget chocolate on your Saint Valentine’s celebrations. If you fancy an extra treat on Saint Valentine, why not enveloping your body in cacao? It makes the skin really silky and velvety. You can find it combined with other skin miracle workers in the Cream of Wonders