Here's Why You're Really Craving Chocolate

Craving chocolate? There could be more to your craving than you think. "We crave chocolate because it is good! It tastes good. It smells good. It feels good when it melts on our tongue," Amy Jo Stavnezer, professor of psychology and neuroscience, told Psychology Today. "And all of those 'feelings' are the result of our brain releasing chemicals in response to each chocolate experience," she continued, adding, "The experience of eating chocolate results in feel-good neurotransmitters (mainly dopamine) being released in particular brain regions."

However, as Keri Glassman, founder of Nutritious Life and The Nutrition School, explained to MyDomaineyour chocolate craving may be signaling something more than simply the urge for a sweet-tasting mood-booster. "Listening to your biology isn't easy in today's world, but it's crucial, especially since cravings may direct you towards a false fix, like processed foods and sugary treats, which will temporarily alleviate the craving, but won't get at the root of the issue." So, what might be the real reason your body is craving chocolate?

Chocolate cravings can signal a magnesium deficiency

When you crave chocolate, it could mean that you need to top up your magnesium levels. And it's actually a craving that's particularly common in women during their period. "Around the time of your period, your body uses up more magnesium, which is why many women experience PMS and chocolate food cravings simultaneously," Lisa Young, professor of nutrition at New York University, explained to Shape

Why is this mineral so important in our diets? "We need magnesium for more than 300 biological reactions in the body, including blood sugar balance," medicinal herbalist Daniela Turley revealed to StyleCaster. "Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include agitation, restless leg syndrome, irritability, insomnia, and PMS. As chocolate is high in magnesium, chocolate cravings can be a sign of low levels, especially if you have some of the deficiency symptoms."

So what should you reach for when you can't stop thinking about chocolate? Foods that are high in magnesium, of course. To get your recommended daily amount of roughly 300 milligrams for women (400 milligrams for men), reach for spinach, Swiss chard, edamame, skin-on potatoes, halibut, and Atlantic pollock (via WebMD).