What’s in chocolate that makes you happier? The stimulant effect of chocolate is due to a combination of theobromine, theophylline and caffeine. Theobromine has been identified as one of the compounds contributing to chocolate’s reputed role as an aphrodisiac.
Caffeine is naturally found in coffee, tea, and to a lesser degree – in cocoa or chocolate (however, by weight, dark chocolate has one to two times the amount caffeine as coffee: 80–160mg per 100g). Caffeine is included in many soft drinks, and mostly because of that it is the world’s most widely used psychoactive drug and by far the most common stimulant. In North America, 90% of adults consume caffeine daily.
Chocolate is good not only for your mood but for your general health. A 100 gram serving of milk chocolate contains 59% of carbohydrates (52% as sugar and 3% as dietary fiber), 30% fat and 8% protein and supplies 540 calories. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat which is removed during chocolate refining, then added back in varying proportions during the manufacturing process. Manufacturers may add other fats, sugars, and milk as well, all of which increase the caloric content of chocolate. Approximately 65% of the fat is saturated, composed mainly of palmitic acid and stearic acid.
Chocolate has over 19% of the Daily Value of riboflavin, vitamin B12 and the dietary minerals – manganese, phosphorus and zinc; and 10-19% of the Daily Value of calcium, magnesium and iron. It also contains polyphenols, especially catechins and flavonoids. Flavonoids are important antioxidants, and promote a number of health benefits.
WORD OF CAUTION:
Whatever you eat, chocolate or salad, eat with measure. Any food, without exceptions, can be healing or killing. Please remember the following:
- Excessive consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food, such as chocolate, without a corresponding increase in activity to expend the associated calories, can increase the risk of weight gain and possibly obesity.
- Chocolate and cocoa contain moderate to high amounts of oxalate, which may increase risk for kidney stones.
- During cultivation and production, chocolate may absorb lead from the environment. Some studies from 2014 indicate that “chocolate might be a significant source” of lead ingestion for children if consumption is high [1, 2].
- Yanus, Rinat Levi; Sela, Hagit; Borojovich, Eitan J.C.; Zakon, Yevgeni; Saphier, Magal; Nikolski, Andrey; Gutflais, Efi; Lorber, Avraham; Karpas, Zeev (2014). “Trace elements in cocoa solids and chocolate: An ICPMS study”. Talanta 119: 1–4. doi:10.1016/j.talanta.2013.10.048. PMID 24401377.
- Villa, Javier E. L.; Peixoto, Rafaella R. A.; Cadore, Solange (2014). “Cadmium and Lead in Chocolates Commercialized in Brazil”. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 62 (34): 8759–63. doi:10.1021/jf5026604. PMID 25123980.