If you're anything like me, you might wonder, "Why do I crave chocolate all the time?" I have an incredible sweet tooth, but it tends to only be directed at all things chocolate coated, covered, dipped, or anything that involves even a remote bit of chocolate. When I realized I preferred this and craved this over all over sweets, I started to wonder why.

I was curious to see if there was any psychology and science that could back up the cravings that I have constantly, all day, every day. Okay, maybe not all the time, but at least once a day, I really wish I was eating chocolate at that exact moment. So, in order to investigate why do I crave chocolate, I did a little research.

Surprise! Chocolate Makes You Happy

One of the key reasons I realized was an answer to why I crave chocolate is that chocolate makes me happy. No, I'm serious. People in general crave chocolate because it tastes good, it smells good, and it feels awesome when it melts in our mouths.

The experience of eating chocolate is what makes you happy. Eating chocolate actually releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, into particular regions of the brain: the frontal lobe, hippocampus and hypothalamus.

Dopamine is released any time you experience something that gives you joy - such as eating chocolate. What triggers dopamine to release is partially determined by genetics, but also can be conditioned based on specific preferences and life experiences.

Some scientists originally thought that chocolate actually had some of the compounds that activate the dopamine system directly (like drugs such as cocaine or cigarettes), but a study showed that just ingesting the chemicals of chocolate was not enough to curb cravings - the experience of eating chocolate was necessary as well.

Chocolate Is a Stress Reliever 

chocolate, cookie, sweet
Melissa Miller

Because dopamine is released into your brain when you eat chocolate, it can actually lower your levels of stress. This is why people often crave chocolate in stressful situations, or crave it when they are in need of comfort or reassurance. 

Clearly, emotions play some part in the cravings that you have. Just like people crave soup when they're sick, a reason why I crave chocolate is because I associate chocolate with a comfort food - I eat it as a mood booster, when I'm feeling down, or when I just need a spike in my blood sugar mid-day.

Magnesium Deficiencies

chocolate, raspberry, mousse, cake
Tom Wilberg

Chocolate actually contains some amounts of magnesium, a micronutrient that a lot of people, women in particular, happen to be deficient in. Chocolate is not the top magnesium-rich food, but it is the only one in the list of top ten foods that is known for its ability to produce dopamine in the brain.   

Other foods, such as leafy greens, figs, avocados, and nuts have more magnesium, but chocolate is actually pretty high in the nutrient, with about 176 mg in a 100 g serving. This is data for dark chocolate though (above 60% cocoa), and dark chocolate is typically considered the healthier type of chocolate due to its lower amount of sugar per serving.

chocolate, milk, candy, sweet, milk chocolate
Alex Weiner

Experts say that about 80% of women are deficient in magnesium, and eating dark chocolate is actually a great, tasty way to up your magnesium levels. Chocolate should not be the main way that you increase your magnesium, but it will definitely curb those cravings that I have.

So, I now have my answers to the question of why do I crave chocolate. And I now understand why I'm always so happy afterwards, which isn't necessarily a downside. Plus, with all these benefits, you can enjoy your chocolate without any guilt. Happy eating!