When it comes to reproductive health not all chocolate is created equal
When you think of chocolate, a lot of mouth-watering treats may come to mind. Do you think about your childhood favorites filled with caramel, nougat, and butter? When it comes down to it, there’s dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. Let’s delve into what makes dark chocolate beneficial to both a man and woman’s fertility journey, and why you may want to keep the other types of chocolate off of your grocery list.
Why not White and Milk Chocolate?
Let’s first see how the FDA defines milk versus white chocolate to find out why it may be best to avoid. Milk chocolate must contain at least 10% chocolate liquor, 3.39% milkfat, and at least 12% milk solids, while white chocolate must have 20% or more of cacao fat/butter, 3.5% milkfat, and 14% milk solids. The lighter the chocolate, the more likely it is an unhealthy choice. This is due to the higher milk and sugar content, which most likely means your serving of chocolate will contain fewer vitamins and minerals. Moreover, studies show that milk can reduce the chocolate’s antioxidant capacity by 30%. Sugar and milk can also spike insulin, create hormonal imbalances, and even insulin resistance, which can interfere with your fertility by negatively impacting the process of egg maturation and ovulation.
So what’s so special about dark chocolate?
High quality dark chocolate comes with a list of benefits. Make sure it’s 70% cacao beans or higher. Also, raw, organic, and vegan chocolate can yield more health benefits. A chocolate bar may be the first thing that comes to mind, but you can also enjoy cacao powder, nibs or raw cacao beans. Cacao is the least processed, purest form of chocolate you can consume. The more pure, the more benefits.
It’s packed with minerals
A serving of dark chocolate includes fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. These minerals help hormonal balance, maintain the DNA integrity of eggs and sperm, and also increases sperm count. Minerals also have a positive impact on ovulation, may increase endometrial lining thickness, and can help keep bones strong. Magnesium is known as nature’s “chill pill” and can have anti-anxiety effects. Too much stress can delay ovulation so anything that eases the fertility roller coaster is definitely a plus.
It contains the amino acid, arginine
Arginine has a positive impact on the egg and sperm. The increased blood flow creates healthier lining of the womb which helps embryo implantation. Also, more blood flow in the ovary helps follicle growth, as well as the egg, by bringing better nutrition. This in turn creates a better embryo. Studies also show that this amino acid increases the volume of ejaculate, sperm count, and motility.
It has antioxidant properties
This is because dark chocolate is rich with flavanols, which is a plant-based antioxidant. Antioxidants interact with free radicals which prevent them from causing damage that can lead to illness, aging, and a host of diseases. This includes the free radicals found in pollution and toxins that are linked to male infertility. In addition, studies show that flavanols can boost health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the heart and brain, reducing the risk of blood clots, and controlling cholesterol. Good blood flow and heart health is great for fertility.
Studies show that there’s a strong correlation between both men and women who struggle with infertility and develop heart disease.
It’s a feel good treat!
It has several components that put you in a good mood. It contains tryptophan, which triggers hormones that make people happy. It also releases beta endorphins, which is a feel-good neuro-chemical that makes you feel relaxed. Dark chocolate is also rich in serotonin, which has antidepressant properties that elevate mood and supports your well-being. The hypothalamus is a gland in the brain that controls your appetite, hormones, and emotions. Excessive stress and anxiety not only negatively impacts how this gland works, but can also delay ovulation. So the fact that dark chocolate can lower the stress hormone called cortisol really support your overall well-being.
Cheers to Fertility!
Just make sure you don’t overdo it. Even the best dark chocolate needs to be eaten in moderation. Experts say that 30-60g is a good dose. When it comes down to it, it’s always about balance.
Has my sweet tooth impacted my fertility?
Fertility Institute of San Diego, a boutique San Diego fertility center, is a firm believer that total wellness is an essential component to maximize your success rates. Whether you want to get a fertility testing procedure or get more support about fertility nutrition, Dr. Hosseinzadeh and her dedicated team of fertility specialists are here to help you on your fertility journey. Southern California residents and beyond can take advantage and book a complimentary consultation with Dr. Hosseinzadeh, to go over fertility nutrition or any other fertility related questions, by clicking here.