Ladies, have you ever experienced excruciating menstrual cramps that leave you curling up in a ball? If so, you know how debilitating they can be. You might have heard that dark chocolate help with period cramps, but you’re not sure if it’s just another old wives’ tale. But does dark chocolate help with cramps? And if so, how much should you eat?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the medical evidence behind this popular remedy and provide some tips on incorporating dark chocolate into your diet in a healthy way.
How Does Dark Chocolate Help With Cramps?
About 80% of women experience menstrual cramps at some point in their lives, and for some, they can be so severe that they prevent normal activities. Menstrual cramps occur due to uterine contractions during blood clot expulsion. There are many remedies out there, from pain relief pills to heating pads, but some women swear by dark chocolate as a way to relieve period cramps.
Dark chocolate contains a number of compounds that are believed to help ease symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), including period pain. These compounds are:
1. Magnesium: This is abundant in dark chocolate, helps relax the muscles, and can reduce painful periods.
2. Flavonoids: Additionally, dark chocolate is high in antioxidants like flavonoids, which may have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce menstrual pain and bloating.
In addition, some people believe that the mood-boosting effects of dark chocolates can help reduce stress, which can contribute to cramping.
How Much Chocolate Should You Eat?
If you’re considering eating chocolate to help with painful period cramps, it’s important to do so in moderation. Dark chocolate, like milk chocolate, is high in calories and fat, so it’s best to limit your intake.
A good rule of thumb, when you eat chocolate, is to stick to one small square (about 1 ounce ) a day. This should provide enough of the beneficial compounds to help reduce period pains, without adding too many extra calories.
It’s also important to choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa for maximum benefits. Lower-quality dark chocolate may not have enough of the compounds that can help with cramps.
The Benefits Of Eating Dark Chocolate
In addition to potentially helping ease menstrual cramps, there are many other benefits of adding dark chocolate to your diet. These benefits are:
1. It Reduces Stress
Dark chocolate can help reduce stress levels, which can lead to a variety of physical and mental health benefits. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid compound that can improve mood and provide a sense of calm.
It also contains serotonin, which helps regulate hormone levels and can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Eating dark chocolate may also stimulate the release of endorphins, chemicals that can boost your mood and promote relaxation.
2. It Promotes Heart Health
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants that can help protect your heart by reducing inflammation, improving cholesterol levels, and lowering blood pressure. Additionally, dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium, which has been linked to improved heart health.
Eating dark chocolate in moderation can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
3. It Improves Cognitive Function
Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it can help improve your memory, focus, and concentration. This is due to the flavonoids it contains, which can increase blood flow to the brain and provide other cognitive benefits.
Additionally, dark chocolate has been found to boost alertness and reduce fatigue.
4. It Prevents Acne
Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and fight bacteria that can cause acne. The flavonoids present in dark chocolate also have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to reduce the appearance of blemishes.
Additionally, theobromine in dark chocolate may have antimicrobial effects, which could help prevent acne breakouts. Eating dark chocolate in moderation may help to keep your skin clear and healthy.
5. It Is An Iron-Rich Food
Dark chocolate is a surprisingly iron-rich food. Iron is an essential mineral that helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, and it’s especially important for those with low iron levels or anemia. Dark chocolate contains approximately 2 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, which is nearly 10% of the daily recommended value.
Eating dark chocolate can help increase your body’s supply of iron, which is important for overall health and well-being.
5 Other Nutrients That Can Help With Menstrual Cramps
In addition to dark chocolate, there are many other nutrients that can help lower pain scores associated with menstrual cramps. Here are five of the most important ones:
Magnesium is an essential mineral that helps regulate muscle contractions and cramping. Studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium can help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps in some women. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, almonds, and bananas.
2. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps to regulate hormones and can help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Foods high in vitamin B6 include salmon, tuna, and fortified cereals.
Calcium is important for healthy bones and muscles, and it can also help reduce menstrual cramps. Foods high in calcium include dairy products, tofu, and leafy greens.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that can help reduce inflammation and ease the severity of menstrual cramps. Foods high in omega-3s include salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation and ease menstrual cramps. Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, and spinach.
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5 Other Ways To Relieve Menstrual Cramps
In addition to a balanced diet, there are many other methods that can help relieve menstrual cramps. Here are five of the most effective ones:
- Exercise: Regular exercise is one of the best ways to reduce pain and discomfort during your period. Exercise releases endorphins which can reduce cramping and alleviate other menstrual symptoms.
- Heat: Applying a heating pad or hot water bottle to the lower abdomen can help to relax the muscles and reduce menstrual cramps.
- Massage: Massaging the lower abdomen with a light, circular motion can also help to relax the muscles and relieve menstrual cramps.
- Yoga: Certain yoga poses, such as Child’s Pose and Cat/Cow, can help to reduce menstrual cramps by increasing circulation to the lower abdomen.
- Herbal Remedies: Many herbs, such as ginger and chamomile, have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that can help reduce menstrual cramps.
Dark chocolate can be a healthy addition to your diet, as long as it is eaten in moderation. Not only does it have the potential to reduce menstrual cramps, but it also provides many other benefits, such as reducing stress, promoting heart health, improving cognitive function, and preventing acne.
Additionally, dark chocolate is a good source of iron, which can help increase your body’s supply of this essential mineral.
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