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Adrienne Dellwo

Dark Chocolate for Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By May 19, 2010

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Food of the Week: Dark Chocolate

Are you sick of healthy foods that don't taste good? Then try a little dark chocolate!

Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits, and some of them could specifically benefit those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • It contains serotonin, which tends to be deficient in us;
  • It stimulates endorphin release in your brain, which elevates the mood, kills pain and may boost the immune system;
  • It may lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, which protects the heart (some research links chronic fatigue syndrome to cardiovascular irregularities);
  • It contains antioxidants (in the form of flavinoids), which some experts recommend for these conditions.

This doesn't mean that we should all binge on chocolate regularly -- we do still have to worry about the fat and calories! However, research shows that we only need about 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits. The best way to add dark chocolate to your diet is to eat it in place of a less-healthy snack.

It also has to be dark chocolate, and the darker the better. Milk chocolate won't have the same impact on your body.

About.com Guide to Longevity Mark Stibich, Ph.D, has a great article on dark chocolate and how to get the most out of it: Health Benefits of Chocolate.

I don't eat dark chocolate on a regular basis, but I do generally keep some around for those days when I feel like I need a serotonin boost, or when I want something sweet. I figure it's better than a lot of other choices I could make. I do notice a difference when I eat it, too. I'm lucky -- I dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so it's an easy choice for me.

Do you eat dark chocolate for the health benefits? How do you compensate for the extra calories? Have you had to adjust to the taste? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!


Photo Anthony-Masterson/Getty Images

May 19, 2010 at 6:32 am
(1) Wendy Burnett says:

Dark chocolate is GOOD for me!?!?!? Oh my goodness – I love it, and now I have an excuse to eat it regularly . . . The only time I’ve ever had an issue with the flavor is when my former boss brought some back from Europe with him that was 97% pure (that one was just a touch on the bitter side.) I can even eat unsweetened baking chocolate if I don’t have anything else in the house.

May 19, 2010 at 11:27 am
(2) Kelley McCoy says:

Here is EVERYONE’S dream come true. HEALTHY CHOCOLATE! go to http://www.eatinghealthychocolate.com

I eat this chocolate 3 times a day and it has helped me with my inflammation, energy and sleep problems.

None other like it!

May 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm
(3) fogmom says:

Much prefer milk chocolate, but in a pinch dark chocolate is ok. I tend not to over eat dark chocolate.

What about peanut butter? I find lowfat peanut butter helps my moods. If no one is around I drop the pretense and forget the bread.

May 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm
(4) cal orey says:

True. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa content) seems to help “fibro” folks–and I include this info in my new book on chocolate cures.
Fibromyalgia? I believe I have a few tender points. I know if I swim regularly, eat right, destress, get good sleep–and get a bit of quality chocolate–whether it’s cold outside (also a trigger for me) or not, I’m good to go.
author of The Healing Powers of Chocolate

May 19, 2010 at 6:35 pm
(5) simone says:

I have ME and have found dark (over 70%) chocolate to be helpful – its not a cure but does seem to even out my days. I have a strip off a big block every night as dessert.

May 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm
(6) Diana McCalla says:

I eat the “right” kind of chocolate 3 to 4 times a day. Because it is cold-pressed, I am getting the equivalent of 10 – 12 servings of raw fruits and vegetables for a little over 100 low-glycemic calories. As a result, I no longer take ibuprofen twice a day for the arthritis in my hips, and I no longer get the ugly bruising we get as we age. Check out all 8 decadent products at: http://cocoa101.com.

May 20, 2010 at 9:38 am
(7) goodwillskr says:

I have a heaping tablespoon of the highest percentage (60% or more) chocolate that I can find – usually chocolate chips or baker’s unsweetened. The less sugar the better. I have mine after lunch as I try to avoid any sugar before bedtime.

May 21, 2010 at 8:46 am
(8) M says:

I like chocolate, but I would be more interested in real treatments.
I think these kinds of stories trivialize the devastating impact of CFS. (If chocolate is a “treatment”, how bad can it be??)
Support research…

May 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(9) Barbara Lee says:

I find that two squares of dark chocolate (72% cocoa) gives me a needed boost when a wave of fatigue hits (usually in mid-afternoon). I don’t feel any need to “compensate” for the calories, because two squares of chocolate is quite a small amount. This isn’t a “treatment” but it is a way of coping with symptoms until the day we all look forward to when there is a really effective treatment for fibromyalgia without killer side effects. (P.S. Anything over 80% cocoa is bitter-tasting.)

May 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm
(10) abotbensussen says:

i always eat two squares of trader jo’s dark chocolate before bed. it’s my treat for getting through another day.

May 22, 2010 at 9:46 am
(11) Veronica says:

3.5 oz??? That’s a LOT of chocolate. Not that I’m complaining, mind, but is there a typo there? If one (baking) square of chocolate is one ounce, I don’t think even my chocoholic self could get through that much… Still, nice to think that I couldn’t possibly eat enough chocolate in a day to meet my nutritional and medicinal requirements, but I can keep trying! :-D

May 22, 2010 at 9:54 am
(12) Vera says:

I heard (or read) that 1 oz. was the “ideal” amount. Since chocolate has caffeine, I try not to eat it in the evening. Sleep is hard to come by as it is.

May 22, 2010 at 6:48 pm
(13) Heba says:

What about caffeine ?? it’s not good for FM isn’t it?

May 23, 2010 at 7:32 pm
(14) Marcella says:

How funny. I eat a couple of squares of dark chocolate before going to bed as well. It is also a special treat for eating right all day. I let it sit in my mouth and slowly melt.

May 28, 2010 at 12:01 pm
(15) linda varey says:

Xocai is a healthy dark chocolate,no fillers,cold pressed,
I am an eater & distributor #30177
you are welcome to contact me for more info judyandlinda@gmail.com

May 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm
(16) Kenny says:

The Center for Flavonoid Research has an excellent White Paper study on the benefits of Dark Chocolate: http://chocolatewealthnetwork.com/flavonoid.pdf

June 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(17) Debra Burchett says:

Dark chocolate does wonderful things for Fibromyalgia and the pain associated with it but you are right not all chocolate is the same. There is one chocolate being sold that is high in anti oxidants and Flavonids and I have used it and it works. It is also helping with weight loss and diabetes. don’t take my word for it. the author of the o2 diet recommends it in her book. and you should check out the web site. http://www.newlifehealthychocolate.com and testimonials at http://www.careenoughtoshare.com

November 25, 2010 at 4:02 pm
(18) Peter Langelaar says:

See my blog for official study’s about chocolate.
And media site http://www.xocohealth.eu



March 14, 2011 at 3:05 am
(19) Les Lawton says:

Hi choclate of any type makes my fybromyalgia pains rearly bad i suffer the next day if I eat choclate or anything with caffine

August 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm
(20) winds says:

I accidently found that 1-2 squares of the 85% (Lindt) dark chocolate helps my fibromyalgia achiness. I would occasionally use it as a snack and realized that every time I did this my pain or achiness would lessen drastically within the hour. It happens every time so I don’t think it’s a coincidence! Who knows though – maybe I just needed to up my blood sugar. I’m gluten, dairy and corn free which also helps tremendously, so I only use a little bit of the chocolate once in a while when needed.

June 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm
(21) Maggy says:

Don’t use commercial chocolate use Organic cocoa powder unn sweetened.

July 13, 2012 at 3:47 am
(22) Maggy says:

You can buy raw organic cocoa with all the health benefits from a company called NOW.And if you want to sweeten without processed sugar use Agave Nectar both good healthy organic products. There is also Panela which is a raw pure cane juice in cones. Disolves in water and taste great! Stay healthy :)

October 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm
(23) Dan says:

I have just started this method , but I use dark baker’s chocolate that has no sugar. I can tell it makes me hyper. I know there is caffeine in chocolate.

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