Many women crave to eat chocolate during their menstrual cycle, and studies have shown that it can actually provide some relief. But why does chocolate help with periods? Is it just a comforting treat or is there a scientific reason behind it?
It turns out that there’s more to chocolate and periods than just a simple craving. There are several compounds in chocolate that have been found to have positive effects on menstrual symptoms.
So, if you’re curious about the roles dark chocolate plays during that time of the month, keep reading to learn more about the science behind it.
What Causes Painful Period Cramps?
Period cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are caused by the uterus contracting to shed its lining during menstruation. During this process of blood flow, the muscles of the uterus will tighten and then relax as it sheds its endometrium (uterine lining).
When these uterine contractions occur in a short duration, they can cause painful cramps and discomfort. The severity of period pain can range from mild to moderate to severe.
What determines the severity of menstrual pain is the degree of prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances released by the uterus during menstruation that cause it to contract and shed its lining.
The higher the prostaglandin levels, the more severe your menstrual cramps will be.
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Why Does Chocolate Help With Periods?
Periods can be uncomfortable and frustrating for many women, with symptoms ranging from cramps to mood swings. While there are various remedies and treatments available, some crave chocolate as a source of comfort and relief. Chocolate cravings are absolutely normal.
But what is it about this sweet treat that seems to make a difference? Hopefully, the following reasons can shed light on the reason for craving chocolate:
1. It Is A Good Source Of Magnesium
Magnesium is needed for some bodily functions like energy metabolism, muscle and nerve function, and bone health. One food that is surprisingly high in magnesium is chocolate, particularly dark chocolate.
Consuming chocolate can provide the body with a significant amount of magnesium, which can be beneficial to those who do not consume enough magnesium-rich foods in their diet. During periods, magnesium helps to relax the muscles in the uterus and can reduce cramps.
2. Dark Chocolate Contains Anandamide
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid (a neurotransmitter in the brain) that has been linked to improved moods, pain relief, and better sleep. Studies have shown that dark and milk chocolate contain a significant amount of anandamide.
When consumed during periods, it can help to boost the mood and reduce cramps.
3. It Contains Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that can provide a temporary boost of energy and alertness. Consuming chocolate during your period can help to increase your energy levels and make you feel more awake.
However, it’s important to note that too much caffeine can lead to dehydration, so it’s best to consume in moderation.
4. It Contains Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and sleep. Studies have shown that dark chocolate contains tryptophan, which can help the body produce serotonin.
When you eat dark chocolate during your period, it can help to boost your mood and provide some much-needed comfort during this time.
5. It Contains Copper
Copper is an essential mineral that plays a role in various bodily functions such as energy metabolism, blood cell production, and nerve signal transmission. Dark chocolate is high in copper, which can help to reduce fatigue and improve energy levels during periods.
Additionally, copper helps to regulate hormones and can provide relief from period cramps. Thus, consuming chocolate with a high copper content can provide multiple benefits.
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Other Foods That Can Help With Periods
In addition to chocolate, there are several other foods that can help with periods. These include:
- Bananas: Bananas are a good source of potassium and magnesium, which can help reduce period cramps and improve energy levels. Additionally, they contain Vitamin B6, which can help to regulate hormones.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is high in calcium, which can help to reduce cramps during periods. Additionally, it contains probiotics which help to balance the bacteria in the gut and improve digestion.
- Whole grains: Whole grains are high in B vitamins and magnesium, both of which can help with period symptoms. Additionally, they contain complex carbohydrates, which provide a steady source of energy.
- Leafy greens: Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are a good source of magnesium, which can help to reduce period cramps. Additionally, they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that can help boost energy levels and improve moods.
- Nuts: Nuts are another great source of magnesium, which can help to reduce cramps and improve energy levels during periods. Additionally, they contain healthy fats that can help to regulate hormones and provide essential nutrients.
- Berries: Berries are packed with antioxidants and fiber, which can help to improve digestion and reduce fatigue during periods. Additionally, they contain Vitamin C, which can help to boost the immune system and reduce inflammation.
- Avocados: Avocados contain healthy fats and fiber, which can help to reduce cravings during periods. Additionally, they are high in Vitamin E, which helps to regulate hormones and boosts immunity.
- Oats: Oats are packed with complex carbohydrates, which provide a slow, steady source of energy throughout the day. Additionally, they are rich in B vitamins and minerals, which can help to reduce fatigue and support healthy hormones.
- Beans: Beans are a great source of protein and fiber, which can help to reduce cravings during periods. Additionally, they contain magnesium and B vitamins which can help to regulate hormones and reduce fatigue.
- Fish: Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve moods during periods. Additionally, they contain Vitamin D, which can help to regulate hormones and reduce cramps.
In conclusion, there are several reasons why chocolate helps with periods. It contains magnesium, which helps to relax the muscles in the uterus and reduce cramps. It also contains anandamide, caffeine, serotonin, and copper, all of which can help to boost energy levels and improve moods.
However, it’s important to note that eating too much chocolate can lead to weight gain and an increase in sugar levels. Additionally, some people may be sensitive to caffeine in chocolate, which can cause headaches and irritability.
Therefore, it’s best to enjoy dark chocolate in moderation during periods.
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