Chocolate Craving: Does it Mean Anything?

Chocolate products are gotten from cacao (ka-kow) trees, which are found in Central and South America. These trees produce a seed that can be dried and fermented into cocoa (ko-ko) beans. Cocoa beans, from which both cocoa powder and cocoa butter are gotten from are the foundation of chocolate.

Cocoa powder and the other solids that remain after extracting cocoa butter have a very bitter taste. Cocoa is heavily processed to improve the flavor. Cocoa contains flavonoids naturally, which are antioxidants with a number of health benefits. The more processing cocoa undergoes, the more flavonoids are destroyed.

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Chocolates are produced by mixing cocoa powder and cocoa butter with sweeteners and other ingredients. Cocoa butter accounts for most of the fat in chocolate. Different types of chocolate have different concentrations of cocoa powder (often called the cacao percentage). Dark chocolate has the top concentration of cocoa powder and white chocolate the lowest. Chocolate also contains other ingredients like milk powders, nuts and sugars.

Reasons for chocolate cravings

Chocolate is one of the most commonly craved foods in America, as a food high in both sugar and fat.

Here are five reasons you might be craving chocolate and what you can do:

  1. Sugar fix

Cocoa is bitter, so in order to improve the taste of chocolate, processors add plenty of sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that your body absorbs quickly. Some people believe that this quick “sugar high” provides a temporary raise in mood. However, most research suggests that it’s the mixture of fat and sugar that cause certain foods to become so addictive.

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A plain Hershey’s milk chocolate bar has 24 grams of sugar. Other chocolate bars that contain caramel, nougat, and marshmallow may have even more sugar. For example, a Snickers bar has 27 grams of sugar. Chocolate bars containing more than 75 percent cacao tend to have less sugar (under 10 grams per bar).

What to do about it

Women are advised to limit their consumption to 25 grams of sugar per day (about six teaspoons) and men should stay below 36 grams (nine teaspoons), According to the American Heart Association.

  1. Because you’re hungry

Sometimes craving for chocolate could simply be as a result of hunger. When your body is hungry, it craves fast carbohydrates like refined sugars. But note that most processed chocolate is high on the glycemic index, which means that it gives you a quick, but temporary sugar rush. Once that rush passes, you’ll likely to get hungry again.

What to do about it

You can overcome your chocolate craving by filling up on something else. Once you aren’t hungry anymore, the disturbing thoughts about chocolate should recede. Consume foods that are low in sugar and high in protein or whole grains. These foods will keep you full for longer and prevent a sugar cravings.

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  1. Caffeine boost

Chocolate contain some caffeine, but it’s naturally not very much. As cacao is processed, its caffeine content decreases. Most processed chocolate candy bars have under 10 mg of caffeine. The average cup of coffee has about 85 to 200 mg of caffeine.

However, some dark chocolates can contain more caffeine than a can of cola (which has around 30 mg). The higher the cacao content, the higher the caffeine content.

Caffeine fuels the central nervous system, making you feel more alert. It also affects the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain, including dopamine. This may contribute to its addictive nature. For people who never drink caffeinated beverages, the caffeine in chocolate may be enough to provide an energy boost. If you regularly consume caffeine, however, your lenience to its effects is probably fairly high.

What to do about it

Try a cup of black tea for a caffeine lift rich in powerful antioxidants.

  1. Out of habit

About 50 percent of American women crave chocolate around the time their menstruation. Scientists have not been able to find a biological explanation for this occurrence. Among women born outside of the United States, in countries where chocolate isn’t usually associated with PMS, chocolate cravings are far more unusual.

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Also, most women’s monthly period comes with anxiety, depression, and stress, so they tend to turn to something that will make them feel good.

What to do about it

Practice mindful eating to help you identify usual cravings. Ask yourself why you want chocolate. Is it because you’re hungry? If not, you can find an alternative or eat it in moderation.

Practicing mindful meditation can also help you deal with stress other than to eat chocolates.

  1. Your body needs magnesium

Research shows that chocolate is high in magnesium. Scientists have questioned whether magnesium deficiencies could explain people’s chocolate cravings. This seems unlikely given that there are other foods much higher in magnesium that people rarely crave, including nuts.

What to do about it

You can take magnesium supplements under a doctor’s prescription. Also, try consuming foods high in magnesium such as black beans, raw almonds, or whole grains.

The healthiest ways to have chocolate

The healthiest way to get your chocolate fix is to find a chocolate with a high cacao percentage which contains more antioxidants and less sugar than other chocolates.

Health benefits of cocoa

The health benefits of chocolate come from the natural cocoa powder. Chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao may:

  • reduce inflammation
  • reduce stress
  • improve memory
  • reduce risk of diabetes
  • improve mood
  • boost your immune system
  • lower risk of cardiovascular disease

What to do if you’re trying to cut chocolate out

There are health benefits of eating chocolate, however, the sugar and fat content can be harmful for many people. Here are a few tips for cutting chocolate out of your life.

  • Drink lots of water, at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.
  • Eat healthy fats like olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that incorporates lots of lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Eat organic nut butters with no added sugar.
  • Sooth your sugar cravings with organic fruits, low-fat yogurts, and fruit smoothies.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.

 

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