Do you ever find yourself craving something sweet, rich and chocolatey? If so, welcome to the club. Chocolate is one of life's greatest pleasures, but have you ever stopped to think about why we crave it so much?
In this article, we'll explore what it means to crave chocolate, the science behind our cravings and some surprising benefits of indulging in a little bit of that sweet stuff.
The Science of Craving
Chocolate contains compounds that can trigger feelings of pleasure in the brain. These include phenylethylamine (PEA), which promotes feelings of happiness and attraction; serotonin, which regulates mood; and caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system.
But while these compounds might be part of the reason why we love chocolate, they don't fully explain why we crave it specifically.
According to research conducted by Debra Zellner at Montclair State University in New Jersey, people tend to crave foods that are associated with positive memories or experiences from their past.
"Food cravings are learned associations," she says. "If you grew up eating chocolate cake on your birthday every year or getting a candy bar after soccer practice as a kid then those foods become linked with happy memories."
So if you're someone who craves chocolate, it could be because your brain associates it with moments when everything was good in your life - like childhood birthdays or first dates. Thanks for making us melancholic Dr.Zellner!
Not All Cravings Are Created Equal
If we're all wired differently when it comes to what types of food bring us joyous memories then does everyone equally go crazy over chocolate? Surprisingly no!
Believe me; I know more than anyone else how irresistible chocolates could be. However not all humans may feel this way even if there are few indeed.
According to research, women tend to crave chocolate more than men due to the hormonal changes of menstruation and ovulation that occur every month. This comes as no surprise since most women find themselves battling with PMS mood swings during their menstrual cycle.
But before you get carried away! It's worth noting that not everyone who craves chocolate is necessarily craving it for its "feel good" compounds or hormone induced cravings (we will surely circle back on these elements in further paragraphs). In fact, some people just like the taste of chocolate without any specific reason other than pure hedonism.
Is Craving Chocolate Always a Bad Thing?
As much as we should all try maintaining our diets balanced while indulging ourselves from time to time which means we might want stay away from high caloric bars of chocolates sometimes. However believing rumors surrounding how consuming Chocolate can cause acne breakout could be considered untrue and unscientific at best!
It used to be believed that eating chocolate would worsen acne but according Dr. Samantha Block - Board-certified nurse practitioner at Chicago's River North Dermatology- suggested that her patients aren't always left with a clear answer when questioning if chocolate causes pimples.
"There isn’t currently conclusive data linking diet and acne," states Block."However considering individual food groups or overall dietary patterns may warrant management—and rarely elimination—of certain foods based on an association made rather than clear scientific evidence."
On top of this suggestion, many sources do confirm however , consuming dark chocolates especially have copious unique benefits associated such as:
Improving Cardiovascular health
Research produced by King's College London showed flavanol-rich cocoa was associated with reducing blood pressure.
Boosting Cognitive Function
- A review published in 2013 found regularly consuming cocoa flavanols may improve cognitive performance after observing improvements made in performing tasks of logic and memory.
Wouldn't you be pleased if chocolate was the answer all along towards extra brain power?!
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, craving chocolates could in fact be for a variety of reasons such as our memories or purely because it's delicious on its own. It may even come with different benefits depending what type we choose to consume (dark doesn't sound that bad now does it?). We should make sure never to harm diets through constantly indulging ourselves but sometimes enjoying your favorite snack won’t lead us spiraling into negativity.
So go ahead and have a piece of chocolate whenever you feel like it, just remember moderation is key!