Some will claim chocolate is it’s own food group. We eat it any time of day. We sprinkle it. We drink it. We pour it. We crave it. But what do those chocolate cravings REALLY mean?
If you crave chocolate, it means your body is depleted and it’s time to restore, right? Head to the vending machine and grab a Hershey’s Bar. Done and done! Yeah, well, if only.
Chocolate has always been near and dear to my heart. I lived in Hershey, PA for several years, right on the corner of Cocoa and Chocolate Ave. I worked at HersheyPark for several summers. “Thanks for riding the looper, have a super dooper day!” Yep. That was me. I also interned at the Reese’s plant. Can I just tell you how amazing Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups taste right off the assembly line? Ahhh… the good ole days. I digress.
Chocolate is a happy food for our brain. It increases dopamine, which is a happy neurotransmitter. We also tend to crave it during “certain times of the month.” But neither of these reasons may be the primary reasons you are craving chocolate. Drum roll please…..
It’s magnesium. Your chocolate craving could very well be a depletion of magnesium. While there are other foods high in magnesium, chocolate is the only food high in magnesium which is also connected so strongly to our brain. Don’t worry, it’s normal and common. And it sounds so much better than blaming “that time,” don’t you agree?
Health Benefits of Magnesium
More than 300 metabolic processes in your body rely on magnesium. It helps to build and rebuild tissue, sparks energy, and relaxes blood vessels, which help to lower blood pressure. It is super heart-healthy and contains antioxidants and flavanoids, all good for your heart (American Heart Association). Magnesium deficiency can be linked to PMS, Fibromyalgia, heart attack, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, depression, and migraines (source).
Other Foods High in Magnesium
Some of the best foods on the planet are high in magnesium! These include: oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, dates, figs, black beans, spinach, and halibut. So the next time you are craving chocolate, why not reach for some spinach and halibut? Yeah right! Chocolate is so much better!
Milk, Dark, Cacao or Carob?
If you think I’m going to tell you to grab a Snickers Bar and call it a day, think again. While you can look at milligrams of magnesium all day long, it also depends on the serving size. When looking at milligrams of magnesium per serving gram (source), unsweetened cocoa came out on top by a long shot – 5.42, followed by bran and almonds at 2.7. Milk chocolate has 0.63 milligrams of magnesium per serving gram, which isn’t bad. However, milk chocolate is processed, and is typically paired with sugar and other sweeteners, and this combined with the dairy component reduces your ability to absorb what few nutrients are left. Honestly, milk chocolate is nothing more than a sugar bomb. #sorrynotsorry
You want to look for 85% (or greater) dark chocolate, or raw cacao. This is where you will find all of the magnesium and other nutrients. According to the US Department of Agriculture, raw cacao has the highest amount of ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) of any food… meaning it has the highest concentration of antioxidants. In any food. Period. You. Are. Welcome.
Carob is an entirely different plant altogether. It has a similar taste to chocolate, but is not a true cacao. Carob does not come close to the amount of magnesium in cacao. Raw carob powder is it’s own powerhouse and has protein and fiber, and is high in vitamin A, vitamin K. calcium, magnesium, and potassium. Carob powder contains polyphenols which have been shown to help prevent cancer and improve cardiovascular health.
And… if you like your chocolate like you like your coffee… there’s even Bulletproof chocolate. Yep. I know. I’m your hero.
The Best Kind of Chocolate
These are some of my favorites!
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Love, hugs, and never underestimate the power of chocolate.HERE.