Can Dark Chocolate Boost Testosterone?

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

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You'll want to indulge in a little cheat every once and a while, no matter how disciplined you are about your training or diet. This helps you to stay on track with your diet and motivates you toward your goals. 

The cocoa plant is rich in bioactive compounds which can improve your health. Can it boost testosterone levels too? 

This article will take a closer look at the following: 

  • What is dark Chocolate?
  • What are the benefits of a healthy diet?
  • What is the T level boost?

What is dark Chocolate?

The cocoa tree is where chocolate comes from. It is made of dried, fermented seeds of the fruit. They are then combined with sugar and cocoa butter to make the final product. 

It is said that the more cocoa alcohol in the final product, the darker the chocolate. This is the paste of ground and roasted cacao beans. For a product to be classified as "dark", it must contain at least 35% cocoa liquor by weight [1]. 

The dark chocolate contains fats. Stearic acid is one of them. It is an unsaturated fat, but it isn't thought to affect vascular health. Anandamide is another lipid that is known as the "bliss chemicals" because it acts on the mind to produce euphoric feeling. 

It is a good source of minerals. Dark chocolate contains magnesium, iron, copper and calcium, which can all help to reduce the risk of hypertension and arterial disease. You'll get some fiber as well. 

Cocoa is a plant-based natural food that contains a lot of flavonoids - bioactive antioxidants. These flavonoids give cocoa its bitter flavor, but they are also good for your health. The main flavonoids you'll find in this food are epicatechin, catechin and procyanidinsepicatechin. 

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Cocoa has many health benefits

Flavonoids have been shown to provide significant protection for the vascular system due to their antioxidant qualities. 

In a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [4] healthy volunteers were given 100g of cocoa rich in polyphenols over 15 days. Insulin resistance and blood sugar levels decreased significantly compared to the white chocolate equivalent. 

The heart also benefits from similar protective effects. In a study conducted by Mostofsky, colleagues and others [5], it was reported that 1-2 portions of chocolate per day were associated with fewer heart attacks in women. 

The study found that there was no protective effect with more than one serving of fruit or vegetables per day. This means the benefits do not depend on consuming more. 

You may lose weight by eating this food. The University of Copenhagen researchers [6] discovered that dark chocolate was associated with a reduction of 15% in subsequent meal consumption when compared to milk. The cocoa-rich chocolate also made people feel like they didn't want to eat as much salty and fattening food. 

What is the effect of dark chocolate on testosterone?

To start with, too much sugar will cause your T level to plummet. So it's important to choose varieties with the least amount of sugar. Aiming for 70% cocoa solids or higher will provide a good antioxidant content while keeping the sugar levels low. 

Second, we have already stated that cocoa contains minerals like magnesium, zinc, and calcium, which are all important in the production of testosterone. These inorganic compounds are what help provide the male hormone enhancing effects. 

Around 6.8mg zinc is found in 100g dark chocolate. According to studies such as those published in Renal Failure, zinc boosts testosterone levels and also luteinizing hormonal - which is a hormone that regulates the production of testosterone. 

Magnesium has similar T-boosting qualities. Cinar et al. [8] conducted a study that showed 10mg per kilogram of bodyweight daily for four weeks significantly increased testosterone in high level tae kwon-do fighters. 

Cortisol and the Cortisol Connection

Dark chocolate's flavonoid contents have been shown to lower cortisol levels in people with anxiety. Cortisol can have a negative impact on testosterone levels. 

The University of Bern in Switzerland conducted a study that found when men were given 50g of dark chocolate (72%), containing epicatechin 125mg, they had a lower stress hormone response when faced with stressful situations such as arithmetic or job interviews. 

Researchers suggest that flavonoid rich cocoa has a direct impact on adrenal glands to reduce stress hormone levels. 

Researchers in Berlin found, too [9], that 40g of cortisol was effective for as long as 14 days. Catecholamines, a family of stress-related hormones, also decreased significantly. It also normalized their metabolic rate and improved the gut bacteria. 

Conclusion

The cocoa tree is the source of dark chocolate. The dried, fermented seeds of the fruit are combined with sugar and cocoa butter to make dark chocolate. 

Cocoa contains a high level of flavonoids, which are bioactive anti-oxidants found in plants. Flavonoids are also responsible for the bitterness. The main flavonoids you'll find in cocoa are epicatechin, catechin and procyanidinsepicatechin. 

Higher cocoa solids in food means higher flavonoid levels. By aiming for 70% solids or more, you can minimize the added sugar while maximizing the antioxidant content. 

It is rich in zinc and magnesium which both have shown to increase testosterone. It doesn't have enough to cause a massive increase in hormones, but it is a significant contributor. Cocoa is also known to lower cortisol, the stress hormone in your body that affects T levels. 

This does not mean that you can eat all the cocoa you like - it isn't always better to consume more. If you don't watch your diet, this treat can cause you to gain weight. Be aware of this and aim to eat 1-2 portions per week, at most, semi-regularly. 

What other substances can boost testosterone?

The premium formula in Military Muscle will boost your testosterone and help you gain muscle. The supplement is made up of only natural, high-quality nutrients like zinc and magnesium which have shown to boost testosterone levels in the body. 

For bodybuilders, testosterone is essential to maximizing growth and muscle size, as well as boosting energy levels, recovery speed, and other important effects.

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References

  1. Katz, DL et al. Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. ARS. 2011; 15(10): 2779-2811
  2. Steinberg FM et al.¬†Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health. J Am Diet Assoc. 2003; 103: 215‚Äď223
  3. Wirtz, PH et al. Dark Chocolate Intake Buffers Stress Reactivity in Humans.  Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 2014; 63(21): S. 2297-2299
  4. Grassi, D et al. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81(3): 611-4.
  5. Mostofsky, E et al. Chocolate intake and incidence of heart failure: a population-based prospective study of middle-aged and elderly women. Circ Heart Fail. 2010; 3(5): 612-6
  6. University of Copenhagen. Dark Chocolate Is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate And Lessens Cravings. ScienceDaily, 23 December 2008
  7. Jalali GR et al. Impact of oral zinc therapy on the level of sex hormones in male patients on hemodialysis. Ren Fail. 2010 May;32(4):417-9
  8. Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion.¬†Biol Trace Elem Res.2011;140:18‚Äď23
  9. Martin, FPJ et al.¬†Metabolic Effects of Dark Chocolate Consumption on Energy, Gut Microbiota, and Stress-Related Metabolism in Free-Living Subjects.¬†J Proteome Res.¬†2009;¬†8(12): 5568‚Äď5579