Dark Chocolate And Hormones

Understanding dark chocolate and hormones

The association between chocolate and hormones is a topic covered in a wide variety of papers and studies. To analyse the correlation between these two, numerous investigations have been carried out. This article will help you gain knowledge on the relationship between dark chocolate and hormones.

About dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a type of chocolate that only contains cocoa butter and cocoa solids, not the milk or butter present in milk chocolate. It is also known as bitter chocolate or unsweetened chocolate.

Dark chocolate has 46% carbohydrates, 43% fats, 8% protein, and 1% water in terms of nutrients. It is a rich source of various dietary minerals, including iron, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc (defined as more than 20% of the Daily Value, DV). Additionally, it has a fair amount of vitamin B12. [1] Oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid make up the majority of the fats.

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:[2]

  • 600 calories
  • Considerable amounts of sugar
  • 11 grams of fibre 
  • 66% of the DV for iron
  • 57% of the DV for magnesium
  • 196% of the DV for copper
  • 85% of the DV for manganese

A study found that dark chocolate has a good amount of biologically active chemical components that act as antioxidants. These include cocoa flavanol and polyphenols, which, when combined  with other foods like almonds and cocoa, may lower some varieties of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.[3]

Another review found that cocoa or chocolate consistently had both short-term and long-term effects for flow-mediated dilatation.[4] Although the effects are typically mild, they can enhance blood flow and reduce blood pressure.[5]

Several significant disease risk factors are reduced by dark chocolate. It reduces LDL or the bad cholesterol that is prone to oxidation and enhances insulin sensitivity.3,6

About hormones

Hormones are chemical messengers that go via the bloodstream from tissues or organs to other parts of your body to regulate physiology and behaviour. Hormones are produced by endocrine glands. The pituitary, adrenal, thymus, thyroid, pineal, and pancreas are the main endocrine glands. Women generate hormones in their ovaries and men in their testes.

They have a long-lasting, gradual effect on numerous processes, including:

  • Growth And Development
  • Metabolism
  • Reproduction
  • Sex Drive

The body's response to stress is typically self-contained. Hormone levels fluctuate under stress, and they return to normal after the stress has subsided. Adrenaline enhances your heart health, minimises stress levels and blood pressure. The main stress hormone, cortisol, elevates glucose and improves the brain's glucose utilisation. Heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels when cortisol and adrenaline levels diminish. [7]

Diet and hormones

Hormones play a critical role in regulating your appetite, weight, and mood to maintain your health. Hormonal balance may be impacted by your food habits, exercise, and certain hormones which become less active as you age.

Hormonal imbalance can enhance your chance of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, menstrual cycle fluctuations and other illnesses. For the body to work effectively, hormone levels must be precisely controlled. Even a slight imbalance can have a big impact, especially when it comes to the menstrual cycle. Your hormonal health may be greatly enhanced by eating well, exercising frequently, and practising habits like meditation, yoga and getting adequate sleep. [8]

The link between dark chocolate and hormones

It is recommended that we completely cut out chocolate from our diets in order to maintain a balanced diet because it has a terrible reputation in the health and wellness sector. Although the negative connotations associated with chocolate are not entirely proven, many forms of chocolate, whether dark or white, have significant sugar content and are therefore not recommended for low-glycemic index (GI) diets.

Dark chocolate often includes less sugar, butter, and milk compared to white chocolate. Increased libido, improved heart health, decreased stress levels, decreased cravings, improved mood, and clearer skin are just a few of the health advantages of eating dark chocolate that are linked to hormones. [9]

To regulate how neurons in the body communicate with one another, the brain frequently releases chemicals called neurotransmitters. Endorphins are one important chemical. Endorphins interact with brain receptors to produce pleasant emotions and feelings and decrease the sense of pain. Depending on the situation, the neurotransmitters can directly influence your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour.

Studies have shown that the main component of chocolate, cocoa, causes the brain to release endorphins, or "feel good" hormones. Your body will release more endorphins the more cocoa there is in your chocolate. Dark chocolate maximises endorphin release more than milk chocolate, which is creamier. [10]

Other neurotransmitter agents connected to chocolate intake include: Serotonin, Dopamine, and Oxytocin.

Effects of dark chocolate on hormones

In a study, researchers analysed how 30 healthy adults' blood and urine stress levels changed after consuming 1.4 ounces (40 grammes) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks. Blood and urine samples were taken and examined at the beginning and end of the two-week trial, and the participants' levels of anxiety were assessed before the study commenced. 

The results showed that regular consumption of dark chocolate reduced urinary excretion of stress hormones, such as cortisol and catecholamines, in patients with high levels of anxiety, indicating decreased synthesis of these hormones in the body. [11]

According to a study supported by the Alzheimer's Society, the antioxidant epicatechin, which is abundant in cacao, has been found to be said to delay the onset of dementia. [12]

There’s a discussion on how pre-menstrual hormonal changes can trigger chocolate cravings. The menstrual cycle and chocolate cravings have been the subject of numerous investigations. According to a study published in "Appetite", American women reported perimenstrual chocolate cravings more frequently than Spanish women. Researchers came to the conclusion that cultural factors rather than physiological ones underlie cravings for chocolate. [13]

In a 2010 study published in "Regulatory Peptides”, it was concluded that consuming dark chocolate and even just smelling it had a direct effect on gastrointestinal hormones, which control  appetite. Hormonal indicators of appetite reduction were present in female individuals who consumed or smelled dark chocolate. [14]


Chocolate is a unique food that tastes great and offers a lot of health advantages. Although sugar is normally present in dark chocolates in minute amounts, the darker the chocolate, the less sugar it will typically contain.

The fact that dark chocolate can be so advantageous is comforting, especially given that our bodies natural stress responses may cause us to seek more sweets. The benefits include:

  • Lowers the risk of heart disease and promotes better heart health
  • Elevates your mood
  • Encourages the thrill, desire, and trepidation that come with falling in love.
  • Prevents high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Offers anxiety relief
  • Increases vitality and happiness
  • Improves mental capacity

"Chocolate meditation" is a type of mindful eating with deep breathing meditation when you completely focus on the flavour, fragrance, and sensation of the dark chocolate. Prefer dark chocolate  that contains 80% cocoa or greater because that has a higher cocoa content and is, therefore, healthier for your health. However, the more cocoa the chocolate contains, the more bitter it will be. 

However, the recommended daily intake is roughly 1 to 2 ounces or 30 to 60 grammes. If you consume anything more, you risk taking in too many calories.


  1. Dark chocolate. In: Wikipedia [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dark_chocolate&oldid=1121638972
  2. Fooddata central [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 6]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170273/nutrients
  3. Lee Y, Berryman CE, West SG, Chen C ‐Y. O, Blumberg JB, Lapsley KG, et al. Effects of dark chocolate and almonds on cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals: a randomized controlled‐feeding trial. Journal of the American Heart Association [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 6];6(12):e005162. Available from: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/jaha.116.005162
  4. Hooper L, Kay C, Abdelhamid A, Kroon PA, Cohn JS, Rimm EB, et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar;95(3):740–51.
  5. Ludovici V, Barthelmes J, Nägele MP, Enseleit F, Ferri C, Flammer AJ, et al. Cocoa, blood pressure, and vascular function. Frontiers in Nutrition [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2022 Dec 6];4. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2017.00036
  6. Alkerwi A, Sauvageot N, Crichton GE, Elias MF, Stranges S. Daily chocolate consumption is inversely associated with insulin resistance and liver enzymes in the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg study. Br J Nutr. 2016 May;115(9):1661–8.
  7. Chronic stress puts your health at risk [Internet]. Mayo Clinic. [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
  8. 10 natural ways to balance your hormones [Internet]. Healthline. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/balance-hormones
  9. dcdevelopers. The health benefits of chocolate & it’s effect on hormones [Internet]. Marion Gluck. 2022 [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://www.mariongluckclinic.com/blog/the-7-health-benefits-of-chocolate.html
  10. Nehlig A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. Br J Clin Pharmacol [Internet]. 2013 Mar [cited 2022 Dec 7];75(3):716–27. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575938/
  11. Warner J. Dark chocolate takes bite out of stress [Internet]. WebMD. [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20091113/dark-chocolate-takes-bite-out-of-stress
  12. Mining a common food compound, Epicatechin, for a new Alzheimer’s disease treatment | Alzheimer’s Society [Internet]. [cited 2022 Dec 8]. Available from: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/research/our-research/research-projects/mining-common-food-compound-epicatechin-new-alzheimers-disease-treatment
  13. Zellner DA, Garriga-Trillo A, Centeno S, Wadsworth E. Chocolate craving and the menstrual cycle. Appetite. 2004 Feb;42(1):119–21.
  14. Massolt ET, van Haard PM, Rehfeld JF, Posthuma EF, van der Veer E, Schweitzer DH. Appetite suppression through smelling of dark chocolate correlates with changes in ghrelin in young women. Regul Pept. 2010 Apr 9;161(1–3):81–6.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818