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What connects chocolate and your craving for it?

 

When someone offers you chocolate, can you resist it?

“Now I’m going to scarf down this chocolate, I want it so much, and my blood sugar has dropped”… Is this familiar to you? The craving for sweets is common to all. We often justify ourselves with arguments such as “I’m in PMS, I have to eat something sweet after a meal, my blood sugar has dropped” and others. This food craving syndrome is already known. In most cases, that food is chocolate.

Here are 5 reasons why you need this very treat/delicacy, as well as what you can do about it:

 

1. Chocolate raises the sugar level in the body.

Chocolate is made by combining cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sweeteners and other ingredients. Cocoa butter contains a high percentage of fat, while different types of chocolate have varying concentrations of cocoa powder (often expressed as the cocoa percentage). Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cocoa powder and white chocolate the lowest. Chocolate also contains ingredients such as sugars, milk powder, and nuts.

Cocoa is naturally bitter. In order to improve the taste of chocolate, the producers add plenty of sugar, in order to neutralize the bitterness. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate very quickly absorbed by your body. That’s why some people believe, according to some research,  that a bar of chocolate elevates their sugar and mood levels, because it is the combination of fat and sugar that makes this food so “addictive”. [1] You will agree that it is often very difficult to say no to chocolate!

For example, one ordinary chocolate bar (up to 50 g) contains about 24 grams of sugar. Chocolates that contain caramel, nougat cream and other additives contain even more sugar! On the other hand, chocolate with high content of cocoa powder (about 75%) contains much less sugar than ordinary chocolates, and sugar is precisely the cause of addiction.

According to the American Heart Association [2], an adult woman needs 25 grams of sugar per day, while men still need a little more – 36 grams a day. If you feel the need for sweet, i.e. chocolate, the recommendation is to choose dark chocolate richer in cocoa.

2. You eat chocolate because you are hungry.

Sometimes the chocolate cravings can be explained by simply being hungry. When you are hungry, you are eager for/crave carbohydrates or sugar. Chocolate, based on sugar, is one of the highest-ranking foods on the glycemic index scale. What it means? This means that chocolate raises blood sugar levels relatively quickly. The bad thing when you consume chocolate if you’re hungry is that you will be overwhelmed by hunger again/you will be hungry again.

The advice is that when you are hungry, look for foods rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, which will keep you full longer. In that case, you won’t have the need for instant energy boosters, such as chocolate.

 

3. You eat chocolate because you need caffeine.

Chocolate does not typically contain too much caffeine. As cocoa is processed, its caffeine content decreases. Most types of chocolates we consume for the purpose of boosting energy have under 10 mg of caffeine. The average cup of coffee contains about 85 to 200 mg of caffeine. However, some dark chocolates [3] may contain more caffeine than a can of carbonated beverage (which contains about 30 mg of caffeine). The logic is simple: the higher the cocoa percentage, the higher the level of caffeine.

What is the role of caffeine? Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, making you feel more awake and focused/alert. It also affects the main neurotransmitters in the brain, thus affecting dopamine levels. Excessive intake of these foods can cause a milder form of addiction. The key to healthy consumption of coffee or sweets is to consumate regularly.

 

4. You eat chocolate as a part of a routine, habit, culture, but also a consequence of stress.

More than 50 percent of women crave chocolate just when their period starts. Research findings [4] have not provided/haven’t been able to provide any logical biological explanation for this phenomenon. In addition, you have an urgent need for chocolate when you are stressed, anxious, depressed, when uncomfortable. A piece of chocolate has the power to quickly lighten your mood. Ask yourself: why do you eat chocolate? Is it because you are hungry? If the answer is no, try to find a healthier way to ward off stress. Any addiction leads to exaggeration. That’s why you often won’t stop at a piece or a bar of chocolate. Find a healthier way to relax. Not only will you alleviate the formation of fat deposits, but you will be healthier in the long run, both mentally and physically.

5. You eat chocolate because your body needs/cries out for magnesium!

Studies [5] have shown that chocolate contains high levels of magnesium. Scientists have wondered if the craving for chocolate can be explained by a deficiency of magnesium in the body?

Food from our region basically does not contain sufficient amounts of magnesium for the daily recommended intake (for women the recommended daily intake of magnesium is 300-350 mg mg, and for men 350-400 mg).

Therefore, there is often a need for such foods, such as chocolate, that is, cocoa or, for example, almonds and similar nuts. These products contain magnesium, but they also have a lot of fat. Due to that fact, their use on a daily basis is limited (it is recommended to consume up to 30 g of nuts a day).

 

 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5174153/

[2] https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-101#.WwsLxS_MzVo

[3] https://www.healthline.com/health/does-chocolate-have-caffeine

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5517000/

[5] https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/133/3/835S/4688015

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