Eating chocolate causes most people to feel great, "Psychology Today" notes. This is because chocolate contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter that elevates your mood. What is interesting is that women feel the strongest desire to eat chocolate prior to and during their menstrual cycle. Chocolate seems to have an antidepressant effect on women just before their monthly period. Chocolate contains substances that are similar to estrogen. This suggests that consuming chocolate helps boost your estrogen levels.
Estrogen and Menopause
Estrogen is a hormone that is necessary for normal female sexual development, MayoClinic.com reports. Estrogen also helps regulate the menstrual cycle, from the onset of puberty until menopause. Your body produces less estrogen when you enter menopause. Taking estrogen supplements helps alleviate symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, unusual sweating and dizziness. Estrogen reduces the risk of osteoporosis in menopausal women, and it's also taken to alleviate the effects of delayed female puberty. Estrogen also helps alleviate vaginal inflammation and ovary problems. Estrogen has also been used to help treat prostate cancer in males.
Chocolate and Phytochemicals
Chocolate contains phytochemicals such as flavonoids, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports. Phytochemicals are chemicals produced by plants that are beneficial to human health. Isoflavones are also called phytoestrogens because they have effects very similar to estrogen. So consuming large quantities of food that has phytoestrogens, such as soy, will alleviate the symptoms of estrogen deficiency. Because chocolate has phytoestrogens, consuming chocolate will help ameliorate the effects of depleted estrogen levels in women, "Psychology Today" notes. However, it should be noted that the benefits of phytochemicals supplements have not yet been validated.
Chocolate and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Women who are on standard hormone replacement therapy often develop a desire to eat chocolate, "Psychology Today" reports. The chocolate craving is strongest when progesterone levels are low. Menstruating women similarly crave chocolate during the phase of the menstrual cycle when levels of progesterone are low. Taking chocolate seems to alleviate the symptoms associated with low progesterone, in addition to mimicking the effects of estrogen.
Chocolate Health Risks
Despite its beneficial effects on health, chocolate also elevates the risk of developing health conditions, such as kidney stones, MayoClinic.com reports. In addition, chocolate contains oxalate, a substance that impairs the absorption of calcium. This suggests that chocolate consumption potentially causes low bone density. Chocolate also contains the amino acid tyramine, notes "Psychology Today." Tyramine induces the release of adrenaline, but it also causes your blood pressure and heart rate to increase. Tyramine has the potential to cause nausea and headaches.
- MayoClinic.com; Chocolate: Does it Impair Calcium Absorption; Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.; March 2010
- MayoClinic.com: Estrogen (Oral Route, Parenteral Route, Topical Application Route, Transdermal Route)
- "Psychology Today"; Chocolate: The Good, the Bad and the Angry; Gary Wenk, Ph.D.; November 2010
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamins - Phytochemicals