I love chocolate. Dark, milk, flavoured, plain, pretty much anything is what I like. When I crave it I can eat 1/3 of a block in a sitting, picking I’m at it one piece at a time. I know I’m not alone in this either.
Chocolate was originally a drink similar to what we call Hot Chocolate, introduced to Spain by the explorer Hernan Cortes after returning from an expedition to Mexico in 1519, and from Spain spreading throughout Europe. In 1828, the Dutch made cocoa powder, and after that added the cocoa butter to sugar and made chocolate. In 1876, a Swiss company added condensed milk to chocolate making the first milk chocolate.
Chocolate has relatively high magnesium levels. In fact, if you have chocolate cravings and start taking a magnesium supplement, often the chocolate cravings reduce or stop. I can also justify this as “self-medicating for magnesium deficiency” when I want to eat chocolate. You’re welcome to borrow that phrase, I coined it about 15 years ago and it’s a great justification. This may be one reason it is a common pre-menstrual craving, as magnesium is needed for efficient contraction of the smooth muscle tissue of the uterus, and often supplementation will reduce cramping pain. You need to eat a lot of dark chocolate to get sufficient magnesium though, and a supplement is probably a better choice.
There is truth in eating chocolate to make yourself feel better. Studies have shown a positive effect on mood. Eating chocolate causes a release of serotonin and dopamine- happy and reward neurotransmitters, so you do actually feel better after eating it. It also contains anandamide which is a neurotransmitter that binds to cannabinoid receptors (the same as THC in cannabis).
Interestingly, chocolate May also increase cognition, with one study showing positive benefits for daily drinking of hot chocolate in people with mild cognitive impairment, and another showing increased cerebral blood flow for 2-3 hours after drinking hot chocolate. There are also studies suggesting that chocolate is cardioprotective.
Spoiler alert though, if you’re eating for cardiac and brain health, then you want really dark chocolate and probably only a few squares a few times a week.
White chocolate isn’t really chocolate, and milk chocolate contains more sugar, dairy and fat. In general the darker the chocolate the less sugar. The milk chocolate with sugar and fat is likely to cause its own cravings as the brain feels that dopamine reward, and sugar itself is an addictive substance.
Do you crave chocolate? What’s your poison?
Come back tomorrow for a post about remedies which have a craving for chocolate and Saturday for a post about the homeopathic remedy Chocolate.