Who doesn’t love chocolate? Mainly if it’s dark and served with a warm cup of coffee. Most women are going to nod with a smile while reading this. So, what is it about women and chocolate? Is it really good for you? And what is the mysterious relationship between chocolate and your hormones? Read on as we reveal the science behind your chocolate cravings.
Chocolate is a popular sweet treat derived from the roasted seeds of the cacao tree. Chocolate is made from cocoa powder from the ground roasted fermented cocoa beans, added to cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and sometimes nuts and dried fruits.
There are different types of chocolate based on the ingredients used and their proportions:
Contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. It has a deep, often bitter flavor due to its high cocoa content.
Contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk (or milk powder), and sugar. It's sweeter and creamier than dark chocolate.
It doesn't contain cocoa solids but is made with cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. It has a sweet, creamy flavor.
It is made solely of cocoa solids and cocoa butter; it's very bitter and is typically used in baking, where sugar is added to the recipes.
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has been studied for its potential health benefits. When consumed in moderation, chocolate can offer several advantages:
Cocoa contains flavanols, which have antioxidant properties and can help improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure. Some studies suggest that consuming dark chocolate can increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good" cholesterol) and decrease oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad" cholesterol).
Chocolate contains Phenylethylamine, which can promote the release of endorphins, potentially leading to mood improvement. In addition, tryptophan in chocolate might help boost serotonin levels, positively affecting your mental health. A Finnish study found that consuming chocolate reduced stress among pregnant women and that their children smile more than children of women who did not eat chocolate during pregnancy.
Dark chocolate is rich in various antioxidants, including flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants help combat oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to aging and various diseases.
Improved blood flow due to the flavanols in chocolate might also benefit brain function and enhance cognitive abilities. Some studies suggest that the regular consumption of cocoa flavanols might reduce age-related cognitive decline.
The flavanols in chocolate can improve blood flow to the skin and protect against sun-induced damage.
Some studies indicated that chocolate consumption is associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
Chocolate is a source of several essential minerals, including magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.
Some studies have shown that chocolate consumption can have anti-inflammatory effects, potentially reducing the risk of chronic inflammatory diseases.
However, it's essential to consider the following when discussing the benefits of chocolate:
The influence of Chocolate on mood and cravings, particularly in women, is an exciting topic. There are several reasons why chocolate might have an impact on female hormones and mood:
Chocolate contains tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can influence mood, and some women experience decreased serotonin levels before their periods. Eating chocolate might help temporarily boost serotonin levels, improving mood during PMS.
Phenylethylamine, sometimes called the "love chemical" found in chocolate, might promote the release of endorphins, the body's natural "feel-good" chemicals. Some speculate this is why many people feel better or happier after consuming chocolate.
Dark chocolate is a source of magnesium. Some women experience magnesium deficiency during their menstrual cycle, which could contribute to mood swings, cramps, and fatigue. Consuming chocolate might help alleviate these symptoms by providing a source of magnesium.
We know how important coffee is for women; chocolate also contains Caffeine and Theobromine: These stimulants can increase alertness and improve mood but can also lead to anxiety and sleep disturbances if consumed in large amounts.
Despite these potential effects, it's important to note that overconsumption of chocolate, particularly milk chocolate which is high in sugar and fats, can lead to weight gain and other health issues. As with everything, moderation is key.
It's also worth noting that individual responses to chocolate can vary, and not all women will experience the same effects. But we can all agree that chocolate is delicious and brings happiness!