Does chocolate relieve menstrual cramps?
Cramping is a nasty side effect of menstruation for many people. If you have painful period cramps (periods), you’ve probably been looking for ways to relieve them.
Chocolate is often touted as a remedy for menstrual cramps. Some claim that its ability to reduce the severity of cramps is the reason many people crave it during their period. But some believe its benefits are more fiction than reality.
This article examines whether chocolate can help relieve period cramps and suggests other foods and remedies that may help as well.
For some people, chocolate can help relieve period cramps very well.
A few small studies have shown that dark chocolate, in particular, can reduce cramps and associated pain (1, 2, 3).
A study of 50 menstruating adolescent girls in a residential school in Indonesia analyzed the effects of dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate on menstrual cramps (1).
The results revealed that those who ate up to 40 grams of a 69% dark chocolate bar per day for the first 3 days after menstruation had significantly less period pain than those who drank 40 grams of chocolate milk per day. day for the same duration (1).
Another study, conducted among 40 menstruating students at a university in Indonesia, found that dark chocolate significantly reduced period pain (2).
Finally, researchers from a university in India divided 90 students into three groups: those who ate 120 grams of dark chocolate per day for 3 days after menstruation, those who drank 120 grams of milk chocolate per day during this period. period and those who did not drink it. Chocolate.
The results concluded that the milk chocolate group had a slight improvement in menstrual pain, but the dark chocolate group had the best improvement (3).
However, since these studies were small, we need more research to find out if and how dark chocolate helps relieve cramps.
A few small studies have shown that dark chocolate can reduce pain associated with period cramps. It seems to be better at relieving pain than milk chocolate.
It is believed that certain nutrients in dark chocolate affect the process that causes cramps.
A period occurs when the uterus loses its lining. To do this, hormone-like lipids called prostaglandins are released to cause the uterus to contract. These contractions cause painful menstrual cramps (
Magnesium, a mineral found in dark chocolate, is known to help relax muscles and, therefore, can relieve uterine contractions and pain. Magnesium may also inhibit the production of prostaglandins, which stimulate contractions (
Some studies support this theory and even suggest that lower blood levels of magnesium are associated with more painful periods (7,
Dark chocolate is higher in magnesium than milk chocolate, which may explain why it seems more effective in reducing period pain.
One ounce (28 grams) of 70-85% dark chocolate contains 15% of the daily value (DV) of magnesium, while the same amount of milk chocolate provides only 4% of the DV (
The same amount of dark chocolate also provides 56% of the DV of the mineral copper.
The potential role of copper in reducing period pain is less clear than that of magnesium. Some researchers believe that since copper is used by the body to create pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins, it may help relieve period cramps (2).
Dark chocolate may help relieve period cramps due to its high magnesium content. Magnesium helps relax muscles and can stop the production of compounds that signal cramps. Copper, another nutrient found in dark chocolate, may also play a role.
In addition to the magnesium and copper in dark chocolate, other micronutrients can help relieve period pain.
Based on a review of 16 clinical studies, vitamins B1, D, E, and K, calcium, zinc, and boron appear to exhibit anti-inflammatory and other properties that help relieve painful periods (
For many of these nutrients, only the supplement versions were evaluated. Still, it probably won’t hurt to eat foods that contain it to see if they are relieving your period cramps. However, avoid these foods if you are allergic or sensitive to them.
Here are some nutrient-dense foods that can relieve menstrual cramps:
- green leafy vegetables
- whole grains like brown rice and farro
- legumes like black beans and lentils
- nuts and seeds such as almonds and sunflower seeds
- yogurt (fortified with vitamin D)
Eating a balanced diet with plenty of plant foods, nutritious fats and proteins will keep you energized during periods of period pain.
Staying hydrated and limiting foods that can eat away at your energy, like refined carbs and alcohol – even if you feel like they’re giving you a quick, short-term boost – can also help.
Besides those found in dark chocolate, there are many crucial micronutrients that have the potential to help relieve period cramps. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are often the best sources of these nutrients.
Besides enjoying dark chocolate, there are many other remedies that can help relieve period cramps.
- taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil)
- applying a heating pad or hot towel to your abdomen and lower back
- undergo massage therapy
- sipping hot drinks, such as chamomile, ginger, or turmeric tea
- walking and doing other moderate aerobic activities
- doing light yoga
Other remedies for menstrual cramps include heating pads, over-the-counter medications, light exercise, and massage.
Dark chocolate seems to live up to the hype when it comes to relieving menstrual cramps.
Studies suggest that eating 40 to 120 grams of dark chocolate per day during your period can help reduce pain. This is probably because dark chocolate is high in magnesium, which can relax muscles and relieve muscle soreness.
If you want to try this remedy, choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content rather than milk chocolate. For other foods and remedies for menstrual cramps, check out the other recommendations in this article.