January 18, 2017

End Fibromyalgia Fatigue with Chocolate

Chocolate can help fibromyalgia sufferers by reducing inflammation, increasing energy and promoting alertness.

Let the rejoicing begin!  Eating a small chocolate bar every day helps fights exhaustion!  What?!  You mean chocolate is good for your health!?  Absolutely!

chocolate-helps-fibromyalgiaMany people who have fibromyalgia crave chocolate. One reason for this is because chocolate’s high magnesium content. And magnesium is something that most fibromyalgia patients lack.

Studies show that fibromyalgia sufferers are deficient in nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium. Raw cacao contains both of these, and thus can help you to restore those nutrients back in your body.

Calcium and magnesium both can help to regulate your muscles so that you can overcome muscle spasms and relax.

Scientists have also discovered that eating DARK chocolate (60-85% cacoa) can help relieve the chronic pain and cognitive issues associated with fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia leaves sufferers exhausted with neurological problems, but they can feel better after eating dark chocolate. Imagine, benefit healing health from a candy bar!

Did you say chocolate?

Chocolate cravings are nothing new, but we’ve always been told chocolate is bad for us because it contains too much sugar.  The truth is too much refined sugar can worsen inflammation and pain in fibromyalgia sufferers (or for anyone).  However, dark chocolate with higher cacao content and less milk and sugar than milk chocolate can actually improve your health.

Here is why:

  • dark-chocolate-benefitsCacoa helps your body produce nitric oxide, which is important for blood flow and blood pressure, promoting healthy circulation.(1)
  • Cacoa also contains many flavanoids (called flavanols), which possess high antioxidant properties.(2) Flavonols relieve inflammation and prevent wear-and-tear damage on your cells. (3)
  • Dark chocolate also contains tryptophan and cannabinoids. These compounds can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
  • Theobromine, caffeine, tyramine and phenylethylamine (PEA) are stimulants in cocoa that can improve the energy level of the fibromyalgia sufferer. (4)
  • Dark cocoa may help this situation by stabilizing the nerve roots and repairing the nerves, resulting in improved neuropathy and a decrease in pain. It might take a while, but it may help.
  • Cocoa is a natural anti-inflammatory. The cocoa is an antihistamine, which stops acid production in the stomach. It also works on COX2 pathways, which does not affect the stomach.
  • The cacao in dark chocolate may also promote the production of natural opiates in the brain. These can help relieve pain and promote a feeling of well-being. (5)

This doesn’t mean that we should all binge on chocolate regularly — we do still have to worry about the sugar and calories!  However, we only need about 0.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day to get the desired benefits.(6)  Dark chocolate therapy seems to work best in the morning.

One woman claimed that by eating an ounce of cacao-rich chocolate every morning she was able to relieve her fibromyalgia symptoms. She said it helped her with muscle pains, migraine headaches etc. and she was able to go off all her “fibro meds.”  In fact, she was so convinced of the healthy aspects of natural cacao that she opened a chocolate shop dedicated to pure dark chocolate.  She recommends eating a serving of 85% cocoa dark chocolate slowly, savoring the taste and making the most of its pleasurable benefits.[7]

These days, there are dozens of dark chocolate choices, and you can spend hours poring over the cacao percentages and exotic provenances on the labels. You can pay a lot more, too. But does any of it really matter and how do you choose a good dark chocolate?

Darker chocolates, with higher cacao percentages are less sweet, but are still probably located in the candy aisle. The cacao percentage on the label of a dark chocolate bar is a total that includes both cacoa solids and cocoa butter—meaning that different chocolates can have different proportions of each and still share the 60 percent dark cacao designation.

Does the chocolate with the most cocoa butter make the best tasting chocolate?  Not always.  Sometimes, the lowest fat chocolate bars are the richest, creamiest dark chocolate to savor.  Here are some recommended brands for fibromyalgia sufferers (or anyone!) that are the best balance of cocoa butter, cacoa solids and sugar:

  • Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate, L-60-40NV (60%):
    Intense rich chocolate with an espresso flavor and caramel aftertaste, nice balance of sweetness and bitterness, complex favor, creamy and thick.
  • best-dark-chocolateGhirardelli’s Chocolate Intense Dark Twilight Delight (72% cacao)
    Balanced chocolate flavor with smoky and fruity undertones, glossy and creamy.
  • Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao Dark Chocolate (60%):
    Nice eating chocolate that is creamy and not bitter, earthy.
  • Green & Black’s ORGANIC 85% Cacao Bar
    Cocoa butter and a touch of vanilla combines with 85% Trinitario Cacao, to produce a smooth and intensely dark chocolate experience.
  • Trader Joe’s Cacao Dark Chocolate  (72%)
    A  dark, very rich, and full-bodied chocolate imported from Belgium. Smooth, nicely balanced, and not intensely bitter.
  • Valrhona Le Noir Amer Cacao Dark Bittersweet Chocolate (71%)
    Super complex, bitter, fruity, slightly sour, with just a smidge of sweetness.
  • Chocolove (70%)
    Strong, bittersweet Belgian dark chocolate crafted primarily from African cocoa beans and a small amount of Caribbean coco beans. Intense, well-rounded cocoa flavors melt smoothly in your mouth then transition to a pleasant cocoa aftertaste.
  • Newman’s Own Organics Organic Premium Chocolate Bar, Super Dark (70%)
    Closet milk chocolate fans posing as dark chocolate fiends: this is your bar. It’s quite sweet and mildly bitter without being bland. The hints of coconut and vanilla aren’t too distracting and keep it interesting. Really creamy, too.

For some there is therapy, but for the rest of us there is chocolate.

 

 

Grandma Barton (Grandma’s Cure Corner) is mother to Joe Barton (founder of Barton Publishing), grandmother to 6 grandkids and 28 step-grandkids, and over 3,000 Home Cures That Work members. She is a two-time breast cancer survivor with the help of Dr. Saunders and natural remedies. Grandma loves finding cures within the home to treat all sorts of ailments. With tips she’s learned on the farm and along the way, Grandma Barton brings a time-tested and trusted voice when it comes to home remedies. She really is an inspiration to us all.

 

 

 

Sources:
[1] The Drs. Wolfson, “10 Foods to Boost Nitric Oxide,” December 14, 2015, https://www.thedrswolfson.com/10-foods-nitric-oxide/.
[2] Sue Ingebretson, “Fibromyalgia and Chocolate: What New Research Says about Health Benefits,” ProHealth, February 14, 2016, http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=25517.
[3] Fibromyalgia.org, “Fibromyalgia and Chocolate,” nd, http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org/chocolate.html.
[4] Fibromyalgia.org.
[5] Fibromyalgia.org.
[6] Sharon Basaraba, “How Much Dark Chocolate Should I Eat to Live Longer?” Very Well.com, February 29, 2016, https://www.verywell.com/how-much-dark-chocolate-should-i-eat-to-live-longer-2223572.
[7] Jane Donahue, “Chocolate Changed Café Owner’s Life,” Chicago Tribune, February 12, 2016, http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/ct-nvs-dining-west-chocolat-du-bouchard-st-0219-20160212-story.html.

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