Dr. Nicole Sundene
Are chocolate chips better than Viagra? According to Journal of Nutrition, chocolate has some pretty exciting therapeutic potential for libido.
Since women don't have a “little blue pill” they have the green light from me to consider taking a daily dose of the little brown pill.
That’s right about 50-200 brown pills a day in the form of chocolate chips I often prescribe to my female patients complaining of poor libido. Research shows that flavonol rich chocolate actually can help prevent the cardiovascular damage that is a leading cause of poor libido and inability to orgasm in women, when it is not caused by female hormone imbalance.
According to research studies, the flavonoids in dark chocolate naturally enhanced natural nitric oxide levels. The drug Viagra works mechanistically as a phosphodiesterase inhibitor to enhance nitric oxide. Our bodies also synthesize nitric oxide, and nitric oxide works on our blood vessels to dilate them and increase blood flow. With psychogenic etiologies ruled out, erectile dysfunction is typically an issue of blood flow. Increasing blood flow is how Viagra manufacturers have made a fortune.
The journal of Nutrition published an Italian university study investigating the therapeutic potential of chocolate and found that, “Flavanols from chocolate appear to increase nitric oxide bio-availability, protect vascular endothelium, and decrease cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors….our findings suggest flavanol-rich, low-energy cocoa food products may have a positive impact on [cardiovascular disease] risk factors.”
Now as a women’s health physician, I typically avoid topics such as erectile dysfunction like the plague, so I am going to drop my men’s health commentary today and then run for dear life. Working as a family medicine for over twenty five years I have learned that... most men simply DON’T care about cholesterol, blood pressure, atherosclerosis, diabetes, blood sugar, antioxidants or inflammation.
The second you start to nag about this stuff their eyes just glaze over. You can nag and nag and nag about cholesterol and blood sugar lab values, and still no changes will be implemented.
Eventually I realized the secret to men’s health while working for a Urologist, the only way to get men to care about their health is to hit them below the belt with the facts that matter. Women are typically all about vanity and men are all about virility. These are the motivators I rely on to get patients to comply with my preventive medicine concepts.
Doctors know that all of the aforementioned health issues contribute to erectile dysfunction. But, what most men don’t know is that without a properly functioning cardiovascular system, things below the belt aren’t going to function either.
It’s all about blood flow and elasticity. We would never leave our garden hoses to freeze out in the cold of winter, we instead take the time to properly care for them to insure they don’t harden and become permanently dysfunctional. Although garden hoses cannot auto-repair, our arteries do by making scar tissue, and the similar type of destruction from high blood pressure, cholesterol, inflammation, and diabetes is repaired by the body by throwing down scar tissue and inflammation.
The more scar tissue and inflammation in your arteries the less elastic they are, and thus the narrower their diameter. Blood pressure just continues to escalate and the damage to your arteries continues in a vicious cycle. Viagra and similar medications such as Levitra and Cialis all work to enhance blood flow.
They are designed to promote the elasticity of those frozen old er…stiff garden hoses. Viagra is a phosphodiasterase inhibitor which increases levels of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes our blood vessels to EXPAND. Eventually arteries become damaged and hardened to the point where they will no longer respond to nitric oxide. Keep in mind though that a “garden hose” left out in extreme harsh “winter conditions” will inevitably lose it’s elasticity, and the hose will have to be replaced. How many “winters” have you left your body out in the cold, not caring about diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation? This is why many men with erectile dysfunction don’t find benefit from Viagra. Blood vessel expansion is the premise of which Viagra has made millions.
I am going to instead give away my natural medicine tips for free, and if the Toll House Chocolate Chip Company wants to send me a billion dollar thank you check, they are more than welcome. What is more important to me is that TODAY you feel inspired and motivated to prevent problems that will inevitably occur down the road TOMORROW.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”—right?
If you don’t have low libido now wouldn’t you like to prevent it from happening? Medicine’s used to treat libido are expensive, have multiple side effects and drug interactions, and are not as well tolerated as the commercials on television make them out to be.
When I worked as a Urology assistant the main complaint was always headaches and that “it just didn’t work”. Well after a while when disease has advanced too far, no medication will be able to work. Think back to the garden hose example. You want your arteries to be elastic and healthy, not hardened from the “harsh winter conditions” of sub-optimally controlled high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
So why chocolate chips?
Well chocolate chips are fantastic prevention because they are DARK chocolate and the darker the chocolate the more nitric oxide enhancing flavonoids.
A study was done on Italian men and found that Italian men that ate an ounce of dark chocolate had healthier lab markers.
Keep in mind that 50 chocolate chips or roughly an ounce of dark chocolate is the minimum amount needed to prevent disease according to that study.
I weighed them out and found that 48 chocoalte chips= 1oz. But you have my permission to throw in two extra chips for preventive measure!
Another study cited previously, showed therapeutic benefit with 100 grams of dark chocolate which is about 200 chocolate chips! Is this not the best news ever for chocolate lovers?
Remember though that chocolate as a medicine is not free of calories, cocoa butter, or refined sugar. Pure cocoa products are a great alternative as an ounce of chocolate chips have 140 calories. While 200 chocolate chips pack a whopping 500 calories!
But, for those of you that are already eating too much sugar and saturated fat, chocolate chips are a fantastic way to transition to a healthier dessert diet. I know most of you are probably eating fattening desserts anyways (I mean we do have to enjoy life a little bit right?) so dark chocolate chips are a healthier alternative and I like that they conveniently come in little bits that can be savored throughout the day.
But, chocolate chips are not the only foods that contain disease fighting flavonoids. So here is the bait and switch. Most fruits and vegetables are also rich in flavonoids.
Berries are chock full of proanthocyanins, citrus is a fantastic source of hesperidin and rutin, and onions are an excellent source of quercetin. Fruits and vegetables are likely going to prevent the need of Viagra too!
Yes–really this is just a giant strategically planned nag on my part to inspire the consumption of more whole foods, especially those rich in flavonoids. And yes it really was too easy to grab your attention with chocolate chips and Viagra and then turn this in to a fruit and veggie nag. But, my point with this “gotcha” is that preventing disease is where it is at when it comes to poor libido. Winter is coming, and it is time to think about your preventative plan for your “garden hose.”
A healthy dose of fresh fruits, raw or lightly steamed veggies, raw nuts and seeds, and chocolate will work synergistically to prevent the cardiovascular damage that causes disease.
For diabetics that want to gain the flavanol benefits of chocolate chips, simply enjoy them with a small handful of raw almonds to decrease the glycemic load and increase phenolic compounds (anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory/anti-cancer). Almonds are also high in fiber, and fiber consumption also is protective to the cardiovascular system. So add about ten raw almonds to your 50 chocolate chips or make a healthy trail mix with your other favorite raw nuts and seeds.
Those in need of weight loss should also benefit from this simple chocolate chip tip as eating a few chocolate bits throughout the day should help you feel satisfied for sweets and prevent those binges brought on by extreme deprivation and yo-yo dieting that sets the stage for binge eating.
Stick with me, and I will teach you how to be healthy while still enjoying life!
Need my help with your hormones and libido? Simply visit my SCHEDULE page to treat yourself to a Naturopathic visit!
Dr. Nicole Sundene
Dr. Sundene is a Naturopathic Doctor in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is considered a Female Hormone Expert in Women's Health and Bioidentical Hormones. She specializes in Holistic Women's Health for Menopause, Thyroid, Hashimotos, PMS, Perimenopause, Autoimmune, Postpartum, Chronic Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, Food Allergies, Digestion, Dermatology , Acne, Psoriasis, Eczema and Adrenal Hormonal Conditions. In 1999 she began working for a Hormone Doctor prior to starting Naturopathic Medical School. With over 22 years of experience in both Prescription and Natural women's health and hormones she presents to women the best integrated health solutions for their Chronic Disease. She has been an Herbalist for over 27 years and enjoys teaching women how to use herbs to balance their hormones, nutrition and optimize their health. Dr. Sundene relies on blood testing for her hormone metrics. The hormone testing is covered per the patient's insurance plan and conducted at certain points in the woman's menstrual cycle. To learn more about Hormone Testing for Women Visit: Bioidentical Hormones. Follow Dr. Sundene on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more tips on Women's Health, Female Hormones and Naturopathy!