On the Way to My Heart A Funny Thing Happened

There’s the old saying that, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”  This is primarily true because men appreciate the simple acts of a woman taking care of his basic needs. (No offense guys!)  But this adage also is true for myself.   Not because I’m that simplistic, but because I love food.  No, no…I mean I really, really LOVE food.  I love trying new things, combining new things, trying what someone else came up with-for an unexpected delight.  For me food is an adventure and a pleasure, just as life and love should be.

The reality is that the feelings of “love” can be directly linked to chemical reactions taking place in the body.  Guess what can encourage, heighten and even mimic these chemical reactions….FOOD!!!  No wonder I’m in love with food.  It legitimately is making me feel “love.”

While many foods have been long thought of as aphrodisiacs, even if just because the way they looked reminded someone of no-no parts rather than any actual scientific merit, there really are some foods that create “love” chemicals.  There is a very real combination of chemical reactions that take place in your body when you are having feeling of “love”.  (Chemicals that are different from the ones creating libido.)

Chocolate 

No joke…topping the list with all the right love inducing chemicals is chocolate.  (Some of you are over joyed at this!)  Here’s the run down…dark and RAW chocolate are really your best choices.  Not just because of the things I try to encourage you to eat, but also because-like everything else we ingest-the less processed it is the higher the health properties.  You want to get the highest amount of reaction from your chocolate consumption, raw and dark is the way to go!  (Boy, that kinda sounds dirty?!)

Chocolate creates the release of dopamine, which causes you to have the mood/feeling of “pleasure”.  It also promotes the production of serotonin.  This is the “happy” chemical.  Especially during these dark days of winter, when serotonin levels typically are lower for most of us, this little boost can make a big difference in our mood.   Finally, there is an actual “love” chemical.  They believe that Phenylethylamine orPhenethylamine  (PEA) is the chemical that creates the feeling of “love”.  And guess what has it…you got it.  Chocolate!

Cheese

Cheese, glorious cheese!  One of my favorite things in the whole world…specifically aged cheeses or yellow ripened cheeses contain the compounds needed to give you that feeling of love.  (I knew it!!)  And it is even noted that cheesecake itself, has its own specific combination of the right chemicals.  These certain types of cheese provide the PEA, Tyramine and Histamine productions that get us feeling good. 

Tyramine is found in a lot of things that are aged or fermented.  (Sour cream, yogurt, blue cheese, wine…)  As the tyramine is absorbed into the blood stream it releases dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.  All of which making you feel good and reacting with the PEA to help it do it’s voodoo we call love.

Seeds and Nuts

Thiamine (Vitamin B1) is another super, good mood food.  Thiamine helps in the production of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.  Typically it is highly sensitive to heat so the highest sources are those that can be eaten without being cooked.  Seeds and nuts.  They might not seem very romantic but finding a way to incorporate sunflower seeds, flax or even pecans can give the neurosystem an emotional boost.  (One of the highest “cooked” sources-bacon.  I KNEW IT!! Cheese and Bacon really do make the world better!) Seeds and nuts are also good sources for all three important minerals aiding in the creation of serotonin and norepinephrine-Iron, Zinc, and Magnesium.  These seeds are also high in Folic acid which aid in the production of PEA.

 Other high in Thiamine foods that are even less romantic, and less potent, than seeds…kale, cauliflower, brown rice.  Get creative, find a way to work Thiamine rich foods into your Valentine’s Day menu.

Shrimp

Now shrimp is more something you expect to see in a “special” meal.  Few of us are indulging in shrimp every day, but do use it as a “special occasion” food.  The good news is that shrimp is a source high in Tyrosine.  Tyrosine is the major component for creating dopamine. Yay shrimp!!  No wonder nothing got Forrest down?

Of course our friends the shrimp are also giving us a good shot of Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and several Vitamin Bs.  All helping create serotonin and norepinephrine.  Other sea creatures that are a high supplier of these magic, feel-good properties…oysters and salmon.

Spinach

Popeye should have been a lover not a fighter.  Spinach may just be the love super food!  It not only contains all of the vitamins and minerals needed to create higher levels of the all the “love” chemicals, it’s actually a HIGH source of most of them.  Vitamin C plays a leading role in the production of PEA.  While people often think of citrus foods as a high source of Vitamin C the truth is there are quite a list of other sources coming in higher.  Topping the chart is dark, leafy greens.

Supplying the power house of “love” chemicals for us, spinach has high doses of it all-Vitamin C, Folic Acid, Magnesium, Iron, Tyrosine, Thiamine, Zinc.  And much more to boot.  Maybe not thought of as an amorous food, but will definitely get the job done.

Use them to make yourself feel better daily.  Use them to share those feelings with people who you love.  But be aware-they are not a magic potion!  So trying to feed specific things to someone who you are trying to love, but maybe has no interest in you or doesn’t realize you are alive, is not going to create miracles.  It’s just food people!

And if you were looking for something to pick up the libido on this special occasion, these might not be exactly what you need or had in mind either.  (Though much of it does have some of those properties as well.)  But after all…are we looking for lust or love?!

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