Chocolate gets a bad rep sometimes. Sayings like, “if it tastes good, it must be bad,” don’t help either. However, thanks to the ever-growing world of science and modern health care, we have a greater understanding of how foods affect the human body. Below are some of the biggest myths surrounding chocolate that today’s smartest food scientists have debunked:
- Chocolate has high caffeine levels – if you were thinking of swapping out your morning coffee for a bar of chocolate, you should reconsider. This old rumor has been swirling around for quite some time. While chocolate does have some caffeine in it, it’s nowhere near the amount in a single cup of coffee, no matter how dark the chocolate. For instance, white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, not cacao paste. This means it doesn’t go through the fermentation process, therefore the amount of caffeine in white chocolate is zero. Milk chocolate has 9 milligrams of caffeine per 1.55 ounces and dark chocolate has 12 milligrams per ounce. The average amount of caffeine in a small cup of coffee is close to 100 milligrams, so the caffeine in chocolate shouldn’t have any affect on consumers (sugar, on the other hand, is a different story).
- Chocolate causes acne – while unhealthy eating habits can cause bad skin, the idea that chocolate causes acne is just that: an idea. In fact, there’s very little evidence that even sugar is linked to acne. Instead, the foods that tend to cause pimples and oily skin are greasy or high carb foods such as French fries, potato chips, cheeses, etc. Even those foods don’t cause acne if eaten occasionally, but excessive amounts of greasy foods consumed regularly can do skin harm, not to mention cause other health problems. That’s not to say, of course, eating a pound of chocolate a day is good for you, simply that your skin will thank you if you choose a chocolate bar over a fatty hamburger. However, remember that acne is rarely caused by any type of food, and if you notice an excessive amount after eating any food, there’s a good chance you have an allergy and should see a specialist.
- Chocolate is bad for your heart – for a food held so close to many hearts, it’s a good thing chocolate doesn’t actually cause heart problems. In fact, some studies suggest that eating dark chocolate is linked to lower risks of heart disease and high blood pressure. According to a study by Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas, chocolate contains “flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid” that help make the heart healthier. The study showed that those who ate chocolate more than once a week were 8% less likely to have heart disease. Of course this study is new and still being peer reviewed. While chocolate may be good for the heart, the sugar and other ingredients in different brands of chocolate can lead to diabetes and other health issues if eaten excessively for long periods of time.
- Children who consume chocolate become hyperactive. Sugar does not make children hyperactive. Full stop. This myth has been debunked over and over, yet many parents will sigh and shrug their shoulders when their children behave like, well…children after consuming chocolate. According to a research paper by Mark Wolraich, Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center, there is no correlation between sugar consumption and hyperactivity in children.