The stereotype is there: women love sweet things. But while it’s regarded as a guilty pleasure by many, the reason for the craving could be backed by science.
Feeling irritable, shaky and tired? When your blood pressure is low you may feel the need for a sugar hit to give you that quick boost of energy, and this could be fuelling your desire for something chocolatey. If you’re heading for your chocolate jar, pick the cocoa-rich dark chocolate, as it’s very low on the glycaemic index and can actually help you stabilise your blood sugar levels.
Chocolate smells good, tastes good and when you eat it you feel good. This sense of wellbeing comes from the mind. When levels of serotonin increase they improve your mood and make you feel relaxed. When you boost your serotonin levels you feel less anxious, which is also why you crave chocolate more when you’re stressed, depressed or emotional.
According to research, chocolate cravings are tied to hormone changes and this explains the desires experienced by pregnant women. A Canadian study claims that chocolate is good for your baby as high-flavanol chocolates (which are essentially anti-oxidant rich nutrients) improve the growth of the foetus, make the placenta work more efficiently, and may even reduce the risk of preeclampsia.
Is the addiction real? For chocoholics the answer is yes. There are some experts who say that chocolate has small levels of alkaloid compounds – the same substance that makes alcohol addictive – and that it also contains anandamine – a compound that has the same effect on the brain as marijuana. It’s a hotly debated topic, with these experts believing that this makes chocolate physiologically addictive.
There is another reason why women (and men!) crave chocolate and that’s because it just tastes so good. It’s smooth, sweet and creamy and when it melts on your tongue it’s a hugely pleasurable experience. You know the smell of chocolate and you know how it will taste, so the anticipation of eating chocolate matches up to the reward of actually eating it. You just need to taste vanilla essence once to understand how some foods have a different taste, to how they smell. Chocolate, on the other hand, never disappoints.
Everyone who works at Beyers loves chocolate and while we’re thrilled that there’s now scientific proof to justify our cravings – it was never going to stop us eating and enjoying our delicious chocolates!