Your body might be trying to tell you something.
We’ve all been there: the dreaded 4 p.m. crisis. To give you a little extra energy to get through dinner time, you grab the candy bar from your desk drawer or cut an extra slice of chocolate cake at the office party. Or maybe you’re just someone who can’t resist chocolate, no matter what time of day.
And we wouldn’t blame you. Most people find chocolate to be intoxicating, and cravings date back to our ancestors.
Dr. Mindy Hair, Ph.D.Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and Assistant Dean of the School of Health Professions at the New York Institute of Technology, explains that early humans viewed cravings for sugar and fat as beneficial, which has evolved with us over time.
She says: “A sensitivity to sweet tastes allowed individuals to distinguish fruits that were at the peak of freshness and vitamin and mineral content. The pleasure of fat drove people to eat foods high in fat, which increased the chances of survival during times of food scarcity.
Although most of us are blessed with access to nutrient-dense foods at all times, Dr. Haar says the food industry reinforces this innate desire for sugar and fat by creating foods, such as chocolate, which for some are not only satisfying. – it’s irresistible.
Tracee Yablon Brenner RD, HHC, CLTcoordinator of the Outpatient Integrative Dietitian Project at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey, adds that when someone eats dark chocolate, it releases a mood-boosting chemical, as well as endorphins that can ward off anxiety and stress.
In other words? That high you get after eating chocolate isn’t just in your head – it’s very real, and we’ve been hardwired to experience it for thousands and thousands of years. But aside from evolutionary fate, chocolate cravings can be caused by something going on in your body. Read on for these possible causes and find out how to eat chocolate with health in mind.
Causes of chocolate cravings
1. Sugar craving
One of the main reasons why you crave chocolate should come as no surprise: your sweet tooth is all in, and chocolate is the only thing that will satisfy your craving. Haar says one of the most likely reasons you have chocolate cravings is simply that you crave sugar and fat, two things that chocolate is full of.
2. Magnesium deficiency
Since many people tend to be deficient in magnesium, as Yablon Brenner points out, your chocolate craving could actually be your body signaling that it needs more of this essential nutrient, which helps with energy production. and muscle function.
Yablon Brenner says healthy adult men should generally consume 400 to 420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day, while healthy adult women should consume 310 to 320 mg per day. And while this can be accomplished through supplements or foods that are naturally high in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds, avocados, beans, nuts, and leafy green vegetables, you may be specifically craving chocolate. black, which is a good source of magnesium.
“If you suffer from anxiety, sleep issues, and muscle aches, it would be a good idea to have your magnesium levels checked by a medical professional to see what may be going on,” notes Yablon Brenner.
Related: 20 Magnesium-Rich Foods Because It’s Easier Than You Think To Get This Essential Nutrient In Your Diet
3. Hormonal changes
When PMS hits, do you find yourself reaching for a pint of chocolate ice cream? It is common for hormonal changes to cause chocolate cravings.
“Hormonal changes that may be due to stress, menstruation or pregnancy may be reasons why people may crave chocolate, but they are more likely to want a delicious food high in sugar and fat” , Haar explains.
4. Low blood sugar
You are hungry. You haven’t eaten for hours. And you start to feel dizzy. The only word that comes to mind right now might be “Chocolate,” so you gulp down a bag of M&Ms to instantly feel better.
This low blood sugar can absolutely encourage chocolate cravings. As Yablon Brenner says, “If someone waits too long between meals, their blood sugar drops and we want a chocolate energy boost.”
Related: New craving alert! Here’s everything you need to know about vegan chocolate
5. A regular chocolate habit
Our bodies and minds remember and cling to daily habits, whether beneficial or not. And one of your habits might just be eating chocolate on a regular basis, which causes constant cravings.
Haar says some research suggests that chocolate consumption becomes habitual and may follow an addiction pattern due to brain chemistry.
6. A low mood
Yablon Brenner says that to relieve stress, improve your mood and ease anxiety, it might seem natural to want chocolate, which provides a temporary soothing sensation and can make you feel better.
Related: The Science of Stress: What Happens to Our Bodies When We’re Stressed?
Go ahead, treat yourself, but choose your chocolate wisely
Reach for chocolate if that’s what you really want. When you withhold a desirable food from your diet, the odds increase exponentially that you will give in and probably overdo it. After all, too much sugar and fat can harm overall health, from your mental well-being to the risk of physical illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. But you can absolutely eat chocolate in moderation.
“A lot of people love and crave chocolate, but the type and quality makes a big difference,” says Yablon Brenner, adding that chocolate is high in polyphenols, or compounds found in plant-based foods that have many benefits, such as improved heart. brain health and function. But it’s about who chocolate you choose in order to exploit these polyphenols.
“Indulging in raw, minimally processed cocoa is delicious and can help with many health issues,” says Yablon Brenner. “In dark chocolate, there is a higher concentration of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation linked to the onset of depression. Raw cocoa, or dark chocolate, which is not processed contains more magnesium and polyphenols than processed cocoa, chocolate and milk chocolate.
Next time you’re grocery shopping, keep an eye out for raw cocoa nibs, which can be mixed into smoothies, or look for a dark chocolate bar with at least 70% cocoa content.
Haar also suggests other ways to get your chocolate fix, such as eating mini chocolate bars as a substitute for regular sizes, or, you can enjoy the taste of cocoa without added fat by dusting cocoa powder not sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of confectioner’s sugar over fresh, thawed frozen blueberries, fresh melon chunks, or canned pineapple in their own juice. Yum!
Next, discover 15 healthy and delicious chocolate recipes.
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