I will emphatically tell anyone who will listen that I love chocolate; I mean LOVE chocolate. Because of my chocolate cravings, I keep anywhere from ten to twelve different high-quality bars in my kitchen cupboard at any given time. The second a chocolate shop opens up in my neighborhood I’m there stalking the poor shop employees and pouring over their selections with painstaking detail, picking out and choosing my next delights.
While this love affair is ongoing, it nearly always intensifies as PMS hits – and I know I’m not the only one to experience this. So what is it exactly that causes chocolate cravings? Why do women crave chocolate?
Scientists are still researching why exactly women crave chocolate, but in the meantime, there are a few good theories floating about.
The Chemicals Behind Chocolate Cravings
There are certain chemicals found naturally in chocolate that boost serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin naturally drops at certain points in a woman’s cycle as the hormone estrogen drops. Eating chocolate helps restore the serotonin and promote calm feelings.
Phenylethylamine, another chemical found in chocolate, is probably the reason why chocolate is considered an aphrodisiac. It’s the chemical found in the brain when we feel as though we’re in love.
Chocolate also produces dopamine, which in turn, ups levels of Oxytocin in your brain. Oxytocin is a chemical that’s usually released when we cuddle with our significant others, or engage in sexual activity. It peaks when women orgasm. Having Oxytocin, Dopamine and Phenylethylamine flood your brain when eating chocolate, produces a kind of euphoria – a wave of well-being in your body.
The problem with the chemical theory is that if you were to give a woman capsules full of cacao, they should experience a similar effect to what eating a chocolate bar would bring about. However studies concerning this have been inconclusive at best. Which brings about another theory.
Chocolate Cravings and Pleasure Centers
The sound of a chocolate bar cracking, the first aroma that drifts up towards your nose, the smooth feel of the dark, sweet essence on your fingers – all of the sensual aspects of chocolate can trigger pleasure centers in your brain. What might be a craving might turn out to be little more than a desire to trigger pleasure in the brain.
Mineral Deficiencies And Chocolate Cravings
For a while some doctors and scientists surmised that chocolate cravings in women were due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. According to this theory, women who claimed they “needed” chocolate, actually needed more magnesium or other minerals.
If this theory were true, however, then these very women would crave other foods rich in magnesium like broccoli or black beans. I personally have yet to see a woman accept an offering of broccoli or peanuts over that of chocolate.
While scientists and doctors continue to search for the answers behind chocolate cravings in women, the best advice I can give is to enjoy it in limited amounts when those cravings hit. If you can, try to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate, as it contains less fat and sugar, and a higher concentration of anti-oxidants.