What Your Chocolate Cravings Could Mean

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

What Your Chocolate Cravings Could Mean

While I personally have never really cared for chocolate, it does have some beneficial antioxidant properties when eaten in moderation. In fact, one study found that two tablespoons of cocoa powder exhibited twice the antioxidant capability of California red wine (140 mL, or almost 5 oz.). It also had two to three times the antioxidant activity of green tea and four to five times that of black tea (each cup made from a 2-gram tea bag).

Of course, you should be consuming minimally processed dark chocolate, not the milk chocolate you find in convenience stores. Dark chocolate has higher levels of antioxidants and tends to be much lower in sugar than milk chocolate.

"Chocoholism" Explained

It’s one thing to enjoy chocolate every so often. It’s another to seriously crave it. 

Cravings for chocolate are oftentimes more for the different stimulants it contains, rather than its sugar content. Chocolate contains the chemicals caffeine, beta-phenylethylamine and theobromide, all of which are stimulants and mood elevators. 

If you are a bonafide chocoholic, it’s highly possible that you are actually craving these chemicals, especially if you’re depressed or under stress. 

Another often overlooked reason for strong chocolate cravings is a mineral deficiency. Chocolate contains a relatively high amount of magnesium and cravings may indicate a deficiency in this mineral. 

Our intake of magnesium in this country has dropped to less than half of what it was at the turn of last century. In 1900, it was roughly 500 mg a day, and today the average is 175–225 mg a day. The government recommended amount per day is 320–420 mg. Most Americans are getting slightly less than half the amount considered to be the minimum. Even worse, when you look at most of the research, adults should probably be getting somewhere between 500–750 mg a day.

So, if you crave chocolate more than what most people consider “normal,” include more magnesium-rich foods in your diet, like bran from rice, wheat, oats; seeds of pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower; Brazil nuts, pine nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, molasses, dry roasted soybeans (edamame), bananas, figs, raisins, kidney and black beans, spinach, leafy vegetables, and halibut.

You also should take a magnesium supplement. Below, I’ve listed the typical recommended daily requirements. But keep in mind, these would be minimum daily amounts, and magnesium from food doesn’t have to be limited at all. At the higher dosages, it possible to experience diarrhea, but that can be avoided by spreading the total dosage out and taking the magnesium three or four times throughout the day (preferably with meals). 

Children:

  • 1–3 years: 80 mg
  • 4–8 years: 130 mg
  • 9–13 years: 240 mg
  • 14–18 years (boys): 410 mg
  • 14–18 years (girls): 360 mg

Women: 310 mg (Increase to 360–400 mg during pregnancy and 320–360 mg if breastfeeding)

Men: 400 mg

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