While there are plenty of t-shirts, key chains, throw pillows and other tshotshkes that offer humorous axioms about our NEED for chocolate, the fact is there are some solid scientific and medical reasons that confirm that our cravings are real.
First, there are over 300 chemical compounds in dark chocolate some of which react within the human brain to affect and alter mood and reduce stress. For example, both sexes benefit when our brains release dopamine in response to the pleasurable experience of eating and enjoying chocolate. Additionally, research has shown that the flavanols in chocolate help us to react more effectively to stressful situations than when those flavanols are not present.
Consumption of cocoa increases nitric oxide, a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies. Nitric oxide acts on small receptors in our blood vessels and prompts the vessels to dilate. This process lowers blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with many types of heart disease including heart failure, atrial fibrillation, and atherosclerosis. High blood pressure is also associated with cognitive decline, dementia, and stroke.
For females, Nutritionist Lisa Eberly, RD, says there are physiological-based reasons why chocolate cravings may seem more intense during your period. Chocolate contains relatively high levels of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and potassium aids in proper muscle function. Eating chocolate therefore can help relieve muscle cramps, including pelvic that affects so many women during their periods. Magnesium and potassium can aid in relaxing the cramps and the pain associated with them.
Chocolate is also high in iron, and iron levels tend to fall during periods due to blood loss, resulting in fatigue. Chocolate consumption helps to boost iron levels which, in turn, help to improve energy levels. Further, chocolate contains caffeine which can provide an energy boost as well as reduce inflammation associated with pain and headaches.
And if all of the physical explanations are reason enough for you to nibble on a piece of luscious dark chocolate, well then, do it just for the taste! Choclatique’s 64% Private Reserve and our 76% Elephant Chocolate are sure to put a smile on your lips and a spring in your step!