According to the staff at the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals. Symptoms sometimes begin after a physical trauma, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. In other cases, symptoms gradually accumulate over time with no single triggering event.
While fibromyalgia is no picnic and still not fully understood, we recently heard a rumour that dark chocolate can actually help with fibromyalgia symptoms. So naturally, we had to investigate. This is what we found out:
A little known fact is 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.
Furthermore, as 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 if you can take 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.
While this is certainly great (and delicious) news for anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia, we encourage you to speak to your doctor before you begin any new or drastic treatment options. However, you can certainly pick up a bar at your local grocers and give it a try with little to no fear.