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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods

Taste / -

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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
© Anna Hoychuk
From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
© Christian Jung
From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
© Chamille White
From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
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From Libido to Rashes, the Chemistry of Aphrodisiac Foods
© Boltenkoff

Softness, scents, colors and sequences of gestures - the secret link between libido and hives, are found in the merits of cocoa, the mischievousness of the banana, the machismo of the truffle. The effect of aphrodisiac foods, proven by science, is discovered to be varied and surprising

Beauty, magic, gestures, rhythms and music make food an aphrodisiac, but there is also a bit of chemistry. In fact, there are substances that have a proven physiological effect, such as zinc (it must be said that zinc is one of the best sexual stimulants), histamine, phenylethylamine and nitrous oxide which, if present in foods, can promote love.
The first substance that is notable for its serious influence on the sexual act is histamine. It is a vasoactive substance – meaning it changes the volume and diameter of the blood vessel walls. Our body produces histamines in response to even the slightest insult by an allergen (redness, hives, mild inflammation). Our bodies produce histamines that enter the bloodstream and also  some foods contain pre-formed histamines, so their intake can have similar effects. To be precise, the effect of histamine foods that interests us here is: the increase in the ability to have orgasms. Foods that are histamine liberators, or that induce the release of endogenous histamine, are chocolate, strawberries, pineapples and exotic fruits, shellfish, egg whites, sauerkraut, alcohol, potato starch, oily seeds and nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts, kola nuts), coffee and legumes (lentils and beans). Foods that already contain histamines are in first place, fermented cheeses (the most flavorful: blue cheese, Swiss cheese, camembert, have up to 1,300 mcg / g); followed by fresh fish (oily fish, tuna and salmon), shellfish and seafood, sauerkraut, and, among the vegetables, spinach (37 mcg / g) and tomatoes (22 mcg / g). Most notorious are oysters and mussels: they are bio-indicators of the condition of the waters, because they tend to accumulate pollution.
It is part of the wide range of foods capable of activating different stimulating actions. In addition to histamine, cocoa is full of phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that is linked toning up and  exciting the nerves. It contains phenylethylamine, an aromatic amine that the brain produces naturally when you are in love or sexually aroused: it activates the central brain neurotransmitters linked to pleasure. It also contains theobromine, the stimulant present in largest quantities and an alkaloid similar to caffeine from the chemical point of view due to the effects it causes on the various systems of the human organism, although in a milder form. It  produces a stimulation on the central nervous system, the respiratory system and the muscular-skeletal system, with a slightly more intense effect on smooth muscle tissue, such as cardiac contraction and the bladder. It stimulates the production of serotonin, the hormone of humor and well-being. According to research presented by the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, the fatty acids of chocolate are able to induce the production of endogenous cannabinoid compounds (i.e., similar to cannabis, but produced by the body).
Herbs, spices, chili
Many herbs and spices provide an important stimulus;  including  tarragon, black pepper, cloves and oregano. Saffron contains crocin, a highly effective antioxidant that can also increase the frequency of intercourse. The capsaicin in chili peppers that gives it the characteristic spiciness, is a powerful antioxidant, as well as an invigorating vasodilator.
In Egypt, honey was used during weddings. Today we can confirm that there is a relationship between  honey and the success of married life.  Starting with breakfast cereal and honey: several studies argue that  oats with honey can stimulate the secretion of testosterone and therefore increase male sexual desire. It should be noted that honey is rich in boron and minerals that serve a role in sex and its readily absorbable sugars are necessary for the production of seminal fluid.
The truffle
The truffle is a male aphrodisiac, in particular the white truffle, which contains androstenediol, a precursor of the male hormone: the male body converts it efficiently into testosterone, however it is not converted into estrogen.
A broadcast aired on the BBC in 2009, "The Truth About Food" presented a report based on research that ingesting four cloves of garlic a day, for three consecutive months, would have therapeutic effects on male impotence, especially for  elderly subjects with high cholesterol problems. After broadcast, the sale of garlic in Britain rose by over 30%.  Coldiretti, an organization of Italian agricultural businesses,  said that news extolling the virtues of the many varieties of garlic produced in Italy and exported all over the world, adds that the red onion has the highest content of nitrous oxide, which is the active ingredient in Viagra.
Celery, asparagus, green leafy vegetables 
Some vegetables - to be eaten fresh, if possible rather than packaged-  offer unexpected hidden virtues. It should be noted first that celery, is low in calories, fresh, vital and has specific abilities to help the flow of blood and clean out the arteries. It is also rich in essential trace elements. There is also a wealth of benefits to be praised from asparagus which contains high amounts of  the amino acid asparagine - or aspartic acid - which gives a particular smell to urine as it metabolizes the degradation  of sulfurs such as thiols and thioesters, while it also offers some of its mischievous effectiveness. Deficiency of folic acid can cause lack of orgasm in both women and in men. Remedies? Lettuce at full blast, salads, spinach and all green leafy vegetables.
The mischievousness of the banana is not limited to the shape or firmness of its alluring  pulp, but it is also  based on bufoterina, the alkaloid content found in the peel.
Beware of the vasodilators
Some clarification should be made about the vasodilators. They can make you feel warm without visceral work on the structure, that is, on the affected part. For example, the intake of niacin, a peripheral vasodilator, can make you sweat and drip, but then when it comes down to it is ineffective. Attention also on wine. According to various studies, red wine has an entire list of benefits including sexual, according to a publication of the hospital SM Annunziata in Florence. Women who moderately consume wine have an overall sexual response better than teetotalers. In addition, a glass of red wine is packed with resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant and organic wines have even more of it. But, as we know, a glass of wine can be traitor too, both for the drowsiness which it induces, and  the vasodilator effect that, as mentioned, can be counterproductive.

Plantation syndrome

Culture / -

imm rif tratta atlantica
© Sebastien Desarmaux_Godong_Corbis

The African slave trade is an historical phenomenon that still conditions the present day in many countries. The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade provides an occasion for reflection on the subject

Millions of people worldwide start their day by pouring a cup of coffee, adding sugar, stirring, and taking that first sip. A set of automatic gestures that rarely leads one to think of the history that informs our actions. The same could be said for tea, or hot chocolate. These commodities have become part of the pleasures of the average day, they help us to socialize, and represent a fundamental aspect of many cultures worldwide.

A cup of coffee
And yet we need only go back in time a couple of centuries to encounter a bitter paradox: sugar, coffee, cocoa, and tea, all of them familiar and comforting products to us, are the outcome of one of the most dramatic tales in human history: the African slave trade towards the Americas and the Caribbean.
The development of these staples was only possible via the reduction to lifelong servitude of millions of people, the vast majority of them African.
The United Nations’ annual International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, on March 25, provides an occasion to look back at this period of history.

Slaves west- and east-bound
The transatlantic slave trade operated for nearly four hundred years, from the 16th to the mid-19th centuries. According to historians such as Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau, some 12 million Africans were shipped to the plantations of the southern United States, as well as the British, French, and Dutch West Indies and to the Spanish and Portuguese empires while the UN puts the figure at 15 million.
The success of the slave trade was made possible by a chain of ‘slavery professionals’, from African kings who specialized in selling off their prisoners of war, via European slave-traders, to the plantation owners on the other side of the Atlantic.
Over the same period, some 17 million Africans were shipped eastwards, becoming slaves in the Arab countries and within the Ottoman empire, with another 14 million became the property of other Africans.

No end to slavery: how plantation syndrome hampers development
One special feature of the transatlantic slave trade was that it led to the cultivation, on a vast scale, of what can be considered the first global foodstuffs. Over and above this, though, it led to the development of models of production and commerce that have continued to have economic and social repercussions on entire nations, long after the slave trade was officially abolished by Britain in the 19th century.
What could be called ‘plantation syndrome’ has condemned a number of countries in the south of the world to persist with cultivating a single crop, thereby hindering the development of harmonious economic growth. Prime examples can be found in the Caribbean and in Latin America.

Women, slaves three times over
This year’s International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is dedicated to women, to those who have been reduced to slavery, as well as those who have fought for its abolition. Estimates show that one-third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic were female. As such, they were threefold victims of slavery. Not just being forced to work against their will, and being victims of racial prejudice, they also suffered gender discrimination. And yet, it is above all, thanks to these women that African culture was transmitted to the new generations, those who were born free.

Chocolate as champagne. The 2.50€ chocolate bar at the supermarket? Forget about it

Taste / -

Eurochocolate Guarducci foto foglia

Chocolate? In a few years it could become a status symbol, an elite food, a luxury that not everyone can afford. The 2.50€ chocolate bar at the supermarket? A thing of the past. The President of Eurochocolate Eugenio Guarducci explains why.

Dr. Guarducci, will we ever be without chocolate?
Without it no, but in ten or fifteen years, it could cost a lot more and become a product that not everyone can afford. The bar of chocolate bar at the supermarket for 2.50€ could become a distant memory.

It’s very simple, consumption is increasing exponentially and not enough cocoa is grown to meet the demand. An example: the Chinese now consume 70 grams of chocolate per person per year. In a short time, this amount could increase tenfold and China could become the biggest consumer of chocolate in the world. This will influence and increase not only cocoa prices, but also all of those ingredients which serve to produce the chocolate: for example hazelnuts and milk powder. Second aspect: in the equatorial belt, which has a more favorable climate for the cultivation of the cacao tree, in the African continent we understand that many producers are abandoning their cocoa for other crops, those leading to more profitable products, such as palm oil or shea butter. The problem today is that there is a deep division between those who produce cocoa - mostly in developing countries - and "rich" countries who receive the cocoa beans and work with the transformation of chocolate into confectionery products. There are children in the Ivory Coast, the world's leading producer, who have never eaten a chocolate bar. It’s as if Italy would produce the grapes and then the send them abroad to turn them into wine and Italians could not even drink a sip.


Do not allow the number and quality of the crops to decrease, to do that you have to bring more money to the pockets of the producers. The first step may be to open processing companies on site, in those countries that produce cocoa beans. In this sense, Expo Milano 2015 will be an exceptional opportunity to meet personally with those who produce the cocoa and those who manage the processing companies. Sometimes, looking into the eyes and giving a sincere handshake, can start projects that will change the world.

How was Eurochocolate, the international chocolate festival that takes place in Perugia, conceived?
The idea came when I was eighteen. I was at Oktoberfest with some friends there and I had an epiphany: it was not just a beer festival, it was a product that united the city. It is an opportunity to promote a territory, thanks to a product that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists.  If we want to put it in technical jargon, it is pure "territorial marketing".

And you have decided to apply it to Italy.
Yes, with Eurochocolate. Perugia is a city in the collective immagination tied to chocolate. Who does not know Baci (kisses)? Today Eurochocolate sees a million visitors a year and as an event it is more recognized in the polls than the Festival of San Remo and, as in Italy there are  many excellent products, we have continued with "MortadellaBò" in Bologna to enhance the Bologna Mortadella IGP  and with "Anghiò," the Blue Fish Festival which takes place in San Benedetto del Tronto. There is  "Fritto Misto " in Ascoli Piceno, for example,   famous for the ascolana olives and" CioccolaTò "in Turin, another historical city of chocolate. The idea, like the festivals, multiplies.

Festivals 2.0?
Much more. It starts by actively involving producers, inventing a catchy name, filling the event with activities such as guided tours, meetings and tastings, and most importantly, communicating the event to the press. It matters a lot to make a show: from the "Bacione", the world's largest chocolate kiss weighing 5,980 kg to the   world's largest bar of chocolate at 3,580 kg of weight and to the chocolate sculptures created ​​live during the event. The effects reach an international significance, capturing press attention and resulting in social networking sites that "go crazy."

In the end, though, when you think of chocolate, you immediately think of Switzerland and Belgium more so than Italy.
It’s true, but we must not forget that we Italians are good in combinations, and therefore it is Italy where the chocolate candy with Cervian salt was created; sweet paprika, chili pepper and vanilla, rose and cardamom. The possibilities are virtually endless.

In short,  is it the Italian creativity that rethinks chocolate in a new way and thus increases business and consumption?
Absolutely yes. Just think of the collaboration between designers and master chocolatiers who become manufacturers of sweetness by Eurochococolate. From Italy comes: "Though I melted," the cube of chocolate already on the spoon to dissolve directly into the cup, the "Choco Pizza", a round shaped chocolate enriched with dried fruit that reinterprets the traditional Italian pizza and "Gratta Chock" (chocolate grate) that allows you to grate the chocolate directly on coffee and cappuccino, mousse, cakes or crepes. New ideas that appeal to audiences and that result in good sales, valuing the product.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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