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Frequently Asked Questions

Do food cravings indicate a nutrient deficiency?

A food craving is the desire to eat a specific food or type of food. Craving is experienced when attempts to restrict intake of certain foods cause the desire for that food to become more salient(5). Women more commonly report food cravings than men do and in particular during the premenstrual phase, e.g. for chocolate. Chocolate contains numerous pharmacological substances (e.g. caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamides) and minerals such as magnesium, which may contribute to improve premenstrual symptoms. However, the amounts present cannot explain the beneficial effects reported after consumption of chocolate. Therefore, attempts to self-regulate, for example, magnesium levels via chocolate consumption are not justified! A bar of chocolate contains only 50mg of magnesium whereas magnesium supplementation studies suggest over 1000mg are required to improve premenstrual symptoms. Thus, psychological factors (e.g. depressed mood, dissatisfaction with body image) are strong determinants of foods craved that tend to be high in fat and sweet-tasting, as these sensory attributes are perceived as providing emotional satisfaction.


The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) is a non-profit organisation which communicates science-based information on nutrition and health, food safety and quality, to help consumers to be better informed when choosing a well-balanced, safe and healthful diet.

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This site was last updated 25/05/2016
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