Does chocolate really trigger migraines, or might chocolate possibly improve health for migraine sufferers? Studies and opinions vary. Here are the facts on chocolate and your brain. Chocolate, not really a migraine trigger!
1) We want chocolate, therefore we migraine…
Many neurologists believe that the amino acid tyramine that occurs naturally in chocolate is the main trigger for most migraines. However, other scientists speculate that women tend to crave chocolate before having a migraine attack, particularly during times of stress, menstruation, menopause, and skipped meals. (Think chicken and egg.)
2) Chocolate or carob- it’s your call
In a recent study on chocolate’s effect on migraines, test subjects received 60-gram bars of chocolate or “placebo” bars of carob. After 24-hours, migraine sufferers who ate the “real” chocolate didn’t notice any reaction to the tyramine (migraine trigger) in chocolate, nor did the combination of chocolate with other “red light” foods have any impact.
The people who ate the carob…we don’t know, but we think they wish they had gotten the chocolate.
3) I heart chocolate!
According to the British Medical Journal, eating chocolate may boost cardiovascular health. A study that included more than 114,000 subjects suggested noticeable heart health benefits among people who eat chocolate.
4) Chocolate has magnificent magnesium…
Chocolate contains magnesium, a nutrient noted to benefit neurological health. Additionally, in some situations, magnesium deficiency highly correlates with migraine attacks.
5) …and restorative riboflavin
Riboflavin, another nutrient that improves your body’s response to painful inflammation, is another ingredient in chocolate. Chocolate is starting to look good now, isn’t it?
6) Chocolate is pure bliss. Really.
Chocolate doesn’t just taste good; it also makes you feel good. Chocolate contains significant amounts of anandamide, a cannabinoid akin to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical found in marijuana. Anandamide, a transmitter that the brain produces naturally to create feelings of well-being, comes from the word “ananda,” Sanskrit for bliss.
7) Chocolate: there is no substitute
Other foods that have similar amounts of anandamide don’t produce the same feelings of happiness you get from eating a piece of rich chocolate. That’s because chocolate contains chemicals that slow down the digestion of anandamide, allowing the pleasant feelings to linger long after you nibble your last bite of chocolate fudge cake.
8) You can’t OD on chocolate, but you can have a lot of fun trying
Lest you think that overindulgence in chocolate could possibly lead to altered states of consciousness, know this: you would have to eat about 25 pounds of chocolate in order to receive a “high” similar to that of marijuana.
9) Chocolate is like kryptonite to the dark forces of evil
10) Another reason to visit Paris in the fall
In the US, any food item that has at least 10% cacao qualifies as a chocolate, and most of the beneficial properties of chocolate become weakened by the addition of sugar, water, milk, or other added ingredients. In European countries, such as Germany, chocolate contains upwards of 30% cocoa beans, with dark chocolate containing even more.