Seven Chocolate Myths Busted
1. Chocolate Contains High Caffeine
Chocolate is not very high in caffeine. A 40g chocolate bar and a glass of chocolate milk both contain 6mg of caffeine – the same amount as a cup of decaf coffee. Regular coffee contains about 65 to 135mg of caffeine.
2. Chocolate is Bad for Your Cholesterol Because It’s Full of Saturated Fat
Stearic acid is the main saturated fat found in milk chocolate. Research has shown that this unique fat does not raise cholesterol levels the way that other types of saturated fats do and has determined that eating a 40g chocolate bar instead of a snack has actually been shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
3. Chocolate Has No Nutrients
Chocolate is a good source of copper, iron, magnesium and zinc. It also comprises of polyphenols (an antioxidant also found in tea and red wine), associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. An average chocolate bar contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a 150ml of red wine. Eating dark chocolate (which contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate) daily also lowers blood pressure and improves insulin resistance (according to a study by Tufts University in Boston and the University of L’Aquila in Italy). These findings do not suggest that people with high blood pressure eat dark chocolate instead of taking their prescribed medication, but that the flavonoids in dark chocolate has a positive effect on blood pressure and insulin resistance.
4. Chocolate Causes Cavities
Cavities are formed when bacteria in the mouth metabolize sugars and starches from any type of food (soda, sweets, juice, bread, rice and pasta) to produce acid. This acid then eats through the enamel of the tooth, causing a cavity. The calcium, protein and phosphate in milk chocolate actually protects tooth enamel and its naturally-occurring fat content means that chocolate clears in the mouth faster than other sweets and reduces the amount of time the sugars remain in contact with tooth surfaces. Regular brushing of teeth and visits to the dentist removes carbohydrate residue and the application of plastic sealants can all help prevent the formation of cavities whether or not you eat chocolate.
5. Chocolate Causes Migraines
While established as a common cause of headaches, a study by the University of Pittsburgh has shown no link between chocolate and migraines. The results were published in the medical journal Cephalalgia. Chronic headaches were once thought to be caused by amines in foods (including histamine and beta-phenylethylamine) such as alcohol, cheddar cheese, chocolates, cured meat and peanuts, but this study rejected chocolate as a possible headache cause.
6. Chocolate Causes Pimples
Studies in the past twenty years have excluded chocolate as a cause of acne. Many dermatologists doubt that diet plays any significant role in the development of acne. Acne is now believed to be caused by a combination of high bacterial levels and oil on the skin.
7. Chocolate Makes You Fat
Any food can be part of a healthy diet if consumed in moderation. A normal chocolate bar has 220 calories (low enough to be a part of a weight control diet if other high-calorie foods are eliminated). Enjoying the occasional piece of chocolate reduces the risk of severe over-eating, which occurs when you feel deprived.