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Does Dark Chocolate Increase Testosterone? (The Answer)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

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 my clients 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 our dietician to go through the scientific literature and confirm or debunk the theory that dark chocolate boosts your testosterone.

Let’s dive in.

Quick Summary

  • Because of its rich magnesium, flavonoid, and arginine content, dark chocolate may boost testosterone levels.
  • Eating dark chocolate may provide numerous health benefits like lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, enhancing mood, and may even help you lose weight.
  • Cocoa butter is the fat from the cocoa plant and contains stearic acid, which may be much more beneficial than some other fats.

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 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].

Related Articles:

What is Dark Chocolate?

Dark chocolate stack on top of each other

Dark chocolate is a blend of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar.

Cocoa liquor is simply cocoa mass, ground-up cocoa beans, sometimes called cocoa solids. Cocoa butter is saturated fat from cocoa plants and is most predominant in dark chocolate.

Generally, saturated fat is considered detrimental to cholesterol levels, possibly contributing to heart disease, although the science is becoming more nuanced on this.

However, cocoa fat contains stearic acid, which studies show may not have this harmful effect [5].

A 3.5-ounce bar of chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber and a good percentage of the daily value (DV) of other nutrients [6].

Including the following:

  • Iron: 66% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 57% of the DV
  • Copper: 196% of the DV
  • Manganese: 85% of the DV
  • Zinc: 30% of DV

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

Chocolate compounds like arginine, zinc, magnesium, and flavonoids can affect natural testosterone production through many different mechanisms in the body.

Let’s break them down.

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.

One study shows that arginine positively affects the anabolic effects of androgens, like testosterone [7].

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 [8].

Minerals and Fats

Zinc is also essential to the production of testosterone and maintaining sperm quality and dark chocolate contains about 30% of the suggested daily value [9].

Additionally, dark chocolate contains magnesium, another nutrient researchers show to be effective at boosting testosterone levels [10].

Low testosterone links to low-fat diets, and dark chocolate contains healthy fat, which may help boost testosterone levels [11].

Caffeine and Flavonoids

Hot chocolate herbal tea, caffeine and flavonoids

Dark chocolate contains caffeine; the darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content.

Studies show that caffeine ingestion increases muscle strength and endurance [12].

Additionally, the flavonoids in dark chocolate may counteract muscle atrophy, increase muscle recovery, and improve muscle mass and strength [13].

Flavonoids help produce nitric oxide, a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow which can also have a testosterone-boosting effect [14].

Flavonoids are antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress on the organs, which help improve testicular function and further help boost testosterone levels [15].

“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

Epicatechin

The benefits of dark chocolate continue with epicatechins, a specific type of flavonoid found in various foods, but dark chocolate contains the most.

Because epicatechins can help stimulate nitric oxide production, dark chocolate may help the body produce more testosterone.

As discussed above, higher nitric oxide levels can promote the production of testosterone [16].

In addition to testosterone-boosting properties, epicatechins may offer many health benefits [17].

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

The benefits of cocoa go beyond testosterone boosting, and they are even more conclusive than testosterone-related research.

Some people choose to reap the benefits of dark chocolate in a health supplement by choosing raw organic cacao powder.

Let’s take a closer look at these additional benefits.

Body Mass Index

Research on the effects of dark chocolate and lowering body mass index (BMI) shows promise.

Dark chocolate consumption may help modulate body weight partly by increasing satiety and reducing the absorption and digestion of fats and carbohydrates.

It may also decrease the synthesis of fatty acids [18].

Testosterone boosting could also be a secondary benefit of consuming dark chocolate and reducing BMI, as being overweight may lower testosterone levels [19].

Brain Function

Research shows that flavonoids, specifically the sub-class flavanols, like epicatechins found in cocoa and dark chocolate, can boost cognitive function [20].

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 [21].

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

- Kris Gunnars, BSc

Cardiovascular Function

Woman biting chocolate bar up close

The benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate to the cardiovascular system are likely due to the flavonol and theobromine content.

One study shows that flavonoid-rich cocoa products reduce blood pressure, and the study credits the theobromine content [22].

We have already discussed that flavonoids promote the production of nitric oxide, which by acting as a vasodilator, will improve blood flow, a massive benefit to 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

Mood Enhancement

Studies show that consuming darker chocolate enhances mood and reduces the risk of depression.

The same effects were not seen with milk chocolate, eliminating the fact it was simply the pleasure of eating the food [23].

Depression and testosterone have an inverse relationship, leaving me to consider that enhancing mood and eliminating depression could be natural testosterone boosting [24].

FAQs

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 [25].

Final Thoughts on Dark Chocolate and Testosterone

Dark chocolate is not only a delicious treat but good for hormonal and general health. However, I don’t advise my clients to eat a 3.5-ounce bar daily due to the calories, fat, and sugar.

I always suggest a tried and true method to increase testosterone production with an all-natural supplement proven to improve energy, libido, and body composition for both men and women.

So, check out the lists of products we thoroughly tested to find the best product to boost your testosterone levels.


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://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360667/#:
  6. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170273/nutrients
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15531722/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32586418/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8875519/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20352370/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33741447/
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20019636/
  13. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10068-020-00816-5
  14. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-chocolate-health-benefits/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5483704/
  16. https://academic.oup.com/biolreprod/article/83/3/434/2530124
  17. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/epicatechin
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24000103/
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955331/#
  20. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28560212/
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520707/
  22. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.158139
  23. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/dark-chocolate-depression
  24. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3992230/
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9518444/
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