Does Dark Chocolate Increase Testosterone? (The Answer)

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD
Published by Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD | Medical Doctor
Last updated: December 5, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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The health benefits of dark chocolate are widely studied, so I set out to explore if this sweet treat affects testosterone levels.

When I hear patients talking about how frustrated they are about how their low testosterone affects them, it leads me to wonder if something as simple and delicious as dark chocolate could be the answer.

So I sat with a colleague specializing in bariatric medicine to go through the scientific literature and confirm or debunk the theory that dark chocolate boosts your testosterone.

Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary

  • Dark chocolate might boost testosterone levels due to its rich content of magnesium and flavonoid antioxidants.
  • Some health benefits of eating dark chocolate include lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, enhancing mood, and aiding in weight loss.
  • Dark chocolate may reduce cardiovascular disease risk by up to 37%, per a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
  • From my clinical observations, I recommend dark chocolate for its hormonal benefits, but caution patients about its high calorie and sugar levels.

Does Dark Chocolate Increase Testosterone?

Close up image of dark chocolate

Dark chocolate may increase testosterone levels because it is rich in magnesium and flavonoid antioxidants, both essential to testosterone [1].

Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds in many foods and drinks, including wine, tea, and chocolate, with powerful antioxidant properties that help the body ward off toxins [2].

Magnesium is essential for the body’s health, and studies published in the International Journal of Endocrinology show it can boost testosterone levels [3].

Dark chocolate is also a good source of healthy fats, which may have a direct role in boosting testosterone levels [4].

As additional alternatives, we recommend safe and legal testosterone boosters.

These bullets are just a short list; dark chocolate also contains loads of potassium, phosphorus, and selenium, but it also contains calories, fat, and sugar.

Let’s look at how dark chocolate may boost testosterone levels.

How Do Chocolate Compounds Affect Testosterone?

Stacking chocolate bars on top

1. Arginine

Chocolate contains rich amounts of arginine; the darker the chocolate, the better.

In my research, most studies evaluating arginine’s effect on testosterone levels involved animals, specifically mice.

Arginine positively affects the anabolic effects of androgens, like testosterone, according to a study published by Journal of Endocrinology [5].

Because temperature, precisely higher temperatures, can negatively impact testosterone production by the testes, one study in mice shows that arginine supplementation counteracts the testosterone reduction caused by heat treatment [6].

2. Minerals and Fats

Dark chocolate, containing about 30% of the daily recommended zinc, is crucial for testosterone production and sperm quality, per research conducted by Wayne State University School of Medicine [7].

It also has magnesium, proven by research to enhance testosterone levels [8].

The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology reports that since low-fat diets are associated with reduced testosterone, the healthy fats in dark chocolate may aid in increasing it [9].

3. Caffeine and Flavonoids

Hot chocolate herbal tea, caffeine and flavonoids

Dark chocolate, richer in caffeine as it gets darker, boosts muscle strength and endurance, research shows [10].

Flavonoids in it fight muscle atrophy, speed up recovery, and enhance muscle mass and strength, based on a study from Yonsei University [11].

These antioxidants also produce nitric oxide, easing blood flow and potentially increasing testosterone [12].

Plus, they reduce oxidative stress, improving testicular function and further boosting testosterone levels, according to research published in Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research [13].

“Flavonoids are particularly abundant in cacao beans—the seeds of the cacao tree. Fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans yields cocoa powder, which is used to make chocolate.”

- Howard E. LeWine, MD

4. Epicatechin

Epicatechins, prevalent in dark chocolate, are flavonoids that stimulate nitric oxide production, potentially increasing testosterone levels [14].

These compounds not only boost testosterone but also provide numerous health benefits [15].

They include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Anti-carcinogenic properties
  • Reduced oxidative stress
  • Lower glucose levels
  • Lower cholesterol levels

Other Health Benefits

Positive properties written on chocolate

Cocoa's advantages extend beyond testosterone enhancement, with more conclusive evidence than testosterone-related studies.

Many opt for raw organic cacao powder supplements to harness dark chocolate's health benefits.

1. Body Mass Index

Studies indicate dark chocolate may lower body mass index (BMI). It potentially regulates weight by enhancing fullness and limiting fat and carbohydrate processing.

Additionally, a 2014 study from Queen Margaret University states it reduces fatty acid production [16].

A secondary effect could be increased testosterone, as excess weight often decreases it [17].

2. Brain Function

Research shows that flavonoids, specifically the sub-class flavanols, like epicatechins found in cocoa and dark chocolate, can boost cognitive function [18].

Credit here could probably go to the caffeine and theobromine content found in dark chocolate and high-quality raw organic cacao, both known for enhancing brain function [19].

“Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by increasing blood flow. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.”

- Kris Gunnars, BSc

3. Cardiovascular Function

Woman biting chocolate bar up close

Cocoa and dark chocolate benefit the cardiovascular system, primarily due to flavonol and theobromine.

Research published in academic journal Hypertension indicates that flavonoid-rich cocoa lowers blood pressure, attributing this to theobromine [20].

Flavonoids enhance nitric oxide production, which acts as a vasodilator, thus boosting blood flow and cardiovascular health.

Flavonoids can:

  • Counteract high blood pressure
  • Improve heart health
  • Decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce the risk of harmful clots
  • Thin the blood

4. Mood Enhancement

Research indicates that dark chocolate consumption improves mood and lowers depression risk.

This effect is absent in milk chocolate, ruling out the mere enjoyment of eating as the cause [21].

Given the inverse relationship between depression and testosterone, it's plausible that mood enhancement and depression reduction naturally boost testosterone [22].

FAQs

What Is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate is a chocolate without milk and instead contains ground-up cocoa beans, cocoa butter, and sugar.

Does Dark Chocolate Contain Testosterone?

Dark chocolate does not contain testosterone but is rich in magnesium and flavonoids, which may boost testosterone production.

How Much Dark Chocolate Should a Man Consume Daily?

A man should consume one to two ounces of dark chocolate daily, which is the recommended daily amount. Consuming more than two ounces can significantly increase your calorie intake.

Is Dark Chocolate Good for Sperm?

Dark chocolate can be good for sperm because it contains many nutrients that promote hormonal balance and sperm quality, like fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.


References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dark-chocolate
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/what-are-flavonoids-everything-you-need-to-know
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3958794/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312216/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15531722/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32586418/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8875519/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20352370/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33741447/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20019636/
  11. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10068-020-00816-5
  12. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-chocolate-health-benefits/
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483704/
  14. https://academic.oup.com/biolreprod/article/83/3/434/2530124
  15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/epicatechinhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24000103/
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28560212/
  18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520707/
  19. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.158139
  20. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/dark-chocolate-depression
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992230/
  22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9518444/
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About The Author

Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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