What are Cramps?
Cramps are discomforting feelings during periods felt by most females. Painful periods are known as dysmenorrhea. The females experiencing it mostly look for different ways to ease the cramps. Lifestyle changes and a few remedial measures can help get through this pain.
Chocolate is often touted to play a role in giving a comforting feeling around the period’s time. They are also believed to lessen cramps. Due to its ability to lessen the severity of the cramps, people often crave them more during the time of periods.
Can Chocolate Lessen Cramps?
Some people actually get relief from cramps after eating chocolate. Studies have found dark chocolate to be effective in relieving pain and cramps during periods.(1, 2, 3)
A study was done on 50 menstruating teenagers at a boarding school to analyze the effect of dark chocolate versus milk chocolate on period cramps. It was found that 69% of people who drank dark chocolate had significantly lesser cramps than those who had milk chocolate in the same amount of time.(1)
Another study was done on 40 menstruating students at the University of Indonesia. It was observed that dark chocolate significantly reduced menstrual pains.(2)
In a research 90 students were divided into 3 groups. One group ate dark chocolate, another group ate milk chocolate and the third group ate no chocolate at all. It was observed that the group that ate dark chocolate had the best improvement, while the ones who had milk chocolate had mild improvement and the group that ate no chocolate at all had no improvement.(3)
How Does Chocolate Relieve Cramps?
There are certain nutrients present in dark chocolate that play a role in reducing the severity of cramps.
During the period the uterus sheds its lining, which is due to the hormone-like lipids known as prostaglandins. These cause the uterus lining to contract and the contractions are responsible for pain.(4)
Dark chocolate contains magnesium that is known to ease uterine contractions and pain by relaxing the muscles. It can also inhibit the production of prostaglandins that are known to stimulate contractions, thereby easing the pain.(5, 6) There are studies that support this theory and even suggest that painful periods are associated with low magnesium levels.(7,8)
An ounce of dark chocolate contains 15% of the daily value of magnesium and the same amount of milk chocolate provides 4% of the daily value of magnesium.(9, 10) Also, an ounce of dark chocolate provides 56% of the daily value of copper that also plays role in reducing pain.
Other Foods and Remedies for Menstrual Cramps
There are certain foods that are rich in nutrients and might play a role in relieving menstrual cramps. These foods include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds like almonds
Eating a balanced diet help in keeping up with the nutrients required in the diet and keeps a person energized during the time of period pain. Staying hydrated and cutting down on foods that zap energy can be beneficial in giving energy boost in short term.
There are several other remedies that may help in relieving period cramps. These remedies include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Heating pad and warm towel
- Massage therapy
- Warm beverage chamomile, ginger, or turmeric tea
- Walking and other moderate activities
- Light yoga
Dark chocolate is effective in relieving cramps during periods. It may be due to the magnesium content of the dark chocolate that helps in relaxing muscles and easing aches. However, if your cramps are severe and keep you from participating in the daily activities and the above remedies prove to be of no help, consult a healthcare professional to manage it. There can be an underlying condition that needs to be corrected, which can further ease the menstrual discomfort.