Fibromyalgia and Dark Chocolate: These Facts May Surprise You
I don’t know about you, but if someone told me that chocolate would help my fibromyalgia symptoms, I’d be all over that. This was recently brought to my attention, so naturally, I had to do some research. Turns out that a good quality dark chocolate, indeed, can help. But before you run out to get some, let’s take a look at some facts.
Did you know that dark chocolate helps to improve blood pressure and blood flow? Because it improves blood flow to the brain, it can improve memory and mental clarity. It contains powerful antioxidants that help with the negative effects of free radicals. Dark chocolate also has been shown to have high levels of some of the minerals that those of us with FM need, such as magnesium, potassium, manganese, and selenium.
Dark chocolate has less sugar and healthier fats. It contains cacao rather than cocoa. The difference between the two is that cacao is minimally processed chocolate, while cocoa is chocolate that’s been heated and chemically processed. I’m sure you can guess which is healthier. The polyphenols in dark chocolate can actually contribute to a healthier gut. It can improve intestinal inflammation as well as reducing food cravings.
Because dark chocolate is more bitter than milk chocolate, you definitely won’t eat too much of it. Usually an ounce or so will do the trick. It’s one thing that can help to improve FM health. The sugar and dairy in milk chocolate can actually exacerbate our symptoms and create more inflammation.
Dark chocolate is definitely an acquired taste, but well worth it. You can start at 60% and work your way up to 90% dark chocolate. I enjoy dried fruit or nuts in my dark chocolate bars. Like anything we try to change in our fibromyalgia journey, baby steps will get us there. Making changes that are initially drastic don’t usually stick.
If you want a list of some healthy and some not-so-healthy dark chocolate, check out Healthy Eater. One of my personal favorites is Endangered Species dark chocolate bar with cranberries and almonds. You can even try adding some cacao to your smoothie.
What are your thoughts? Are you surprised? Have you tried dark chocolate? If so, do you have a favorite?