Chocolate: What is the Optimal Dose?

Bret asked us how much chocolate is needed for good health:

I have a question about having dark chocolate daily. Does it need to be every day or what is the mininum grams per day. I have been having around 35g a day of 70% but I wondered if less would be ok or not having it at all.

This is a great time for this question, since Halloween candy will be running out soon, and those on tight budgets may be tempted to skimp on their chocolate. Should they?

Chocolate Is Not Considered Essential … Yet

Chocolate has not yet been recognized by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academies as an essential nutrient. We haven’t either: Our food plate lists it among “pleasure foods,” which are healthful but optional.

However, we are becoming ever-more chocolate friendly. In the new edition of our book, we list chocolate among our “supplemental foods” which we recommend consuming regularly. But our suggested dose is “as desired.” Perhaps we should narrow that down a little.

Chocolate Against Cardiovascular Disease

We’ve previously warned of the danger of chocolate deficiency, based on a systematic review that found: “The highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke.” [1]

Here’s a visual summary of their findings:

The review authors report that every study accounted for chocolate intake in a different way, so they could only compare the groups with highest and lowest chocolate consumption in each study, not specific doses of chocolate.

Chocolate Against Diabetes

Bret was concerned about the sugar in chocolate, but if this is a problem, it’s outweighed by the benefits of chocolate. A Japanese study found that the rate of diabetes was reduced by 30% in those who consume the most chocolate. [2]

Chocolate Against Dementia and In Support of Cognitive Function

Several studies [3, 4] have found that chocolate consumption reduces risk of dementia and enhances performance on tests of cognitive function.

One of them found that cognitive function was optimized with a relatively low dose of chocolate – ten grams per day:

The associations between intake of these foodstuffs and cognition were dose dependent, with maximum effect at intakes of approximately 10 g/d for chocolate and approximately 75-100 mL/d for wine, but approximately linear for tea. [3]

The other found that cognition improved with intake of cocoa flavanols up to quite high doses – elderly given 1 g/day cocoa flavanols performed significantly better on cognitive tests than those given lower doses. [4]

Unfortunately I don’t know what fraction of chocolate is made of flavanols. I’m guessing it’s not more than a few percent, in which case this research suggests the optimal dose of chocolate may be 50 g/day or more.

Chocolate in Support of Circadian Rhythms

Most authors attribute the benefits of chocolate to their flavanols, which are thought to improve endothelial function and increase blood flow to the brain, among other effects.

However, there are other active compounds in chocolate, include peptides that interact with the opioid receptor. The opioid receptor has a role in circadian rhythms, which is one reason low-dose naltrexone (which blocks opioid function at night) works. It’s possible that eating chocolate during the day may support circadian rhythms via opioid receptor stimulation, especially if the peptides can reach the systemic circulation.

Indirect evidence that this may be beneficial comes from a Russian study in which exorphins (opioid receptor ligands) were injected into rats:

The chronic intraperitoneal administration of the peptide at the same dose of 5 mg/kg significantly increased exploratory activity, decreased anxiety, and improved learning. [5]

I don’t know how much chocolate would have to be eaten to achieve a similar exorphin dose in humans, but I imagine it’s large.

Chocolate in Support of Nobel Prizes

So how shall we resolve the issue of optimal chocolate dose? For me, the decisive evidence comes from a recent study by Franz Messerli published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Based on chocolate’s support for cognitive function, he decided to see if chocolate consumption was related to another measure of cognition – Nobel Prize awards per capita. He counted Nobel Prizes and compared them to the recipient’s country’s chocolate consumption. These were his findings [6]:

There is clearly a strong correlation. The correlation coefficient is .79; p < 0.0001.

The correlation coefficient if Sweden is removed increases to .86 – which is suspicious:

Given its per capita chocolate consumption of 6.4 kg per year, we would predict that Sweden should have produced a total of about 14 Nobel laureates, yet we observe 32. Considering that in this instance the observed number exceeds the expected number by a factor of more than 2, one cannot quite escape the notion that either the Nobel Committee in Stockholm has some inherent patriotic bias when assessing the candidates for these awards or, perhaps, that the Swedes are particularly sensitive to chocolate, and even minuscule amounts greatly enhance their cognition. [6]

Those dastardly Swedes! Giving themselves more Nobel Prizes than their chocolate consumption warrants!

But I apologize, I’ve been diverted. The key point is, is there an optimum chocolate consumption?

the dose–response curve reveals no apparent ceiling on the number of Nobel laureates at the highest chocolate-dose level of 11 kg per year. [6]

11 kg/yr is an average of 30 g/day. So benefits are still increasing at that dose.

Of course, this was only a population level study. We still need to measure the doses in individual laureates to gain confidence. But anecdotally, there appears to be a correlation:

“I attribute essentially all my success to the very large amount of chocolate that I consume,” said Eric Cornell, an American physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 2001. “Personally I feel that milk chocolate makes you stupid. Now dark chocolate is the way to go. It’s one thing if you want like a medicine or chemistry Nobel Prize…but if you want a physics Nobel Prize it pretty much has got to be dark chocolate.”

Dark chocolate is, indeed, the PHD-approved form of this highly beneficial food.

Conclusion

This dose-response data might not be strong enough to define an RDA, but I’m going to take a stand: Bret’s intake of 35 g/day is healthy. Indeed, it’s right in line with the Nobel Prize-maximizing chocolate intake of the Swiss.

In regard to your last question, Bret – can you eat less chocolate, or none at all – the answer is clear. Yes, you can. But you must accept the consequences. You probably won’t be winning the next Nobel Prize for Physics.

References

[1] Buitrago-Lopez A et al. Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011 Aug 26;343:d4488. doi: 10.1136/bmj.d4488. http://pmid.us/21875885.

[2] Oba S et al. Consumption of coffee, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, chocolate snacks and the caffeine content in relation to risk of diabetes in Japanese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2010 Feb;103(3):453-9. http://pmid.us/19818197.

[3] Nurk E et al. Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. J Nutr. 2009 Jan;139(1):120-7. http://pmid.us/19056649.

[4] Desideri G et al. Benefits in cognitive function, blood pressure, and insulin resistance through cocoa flavanol consumption in elderly subjects with mild cognitive impairment: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) study. Hypertension. 2012 Sep;60(3):794-801. http://pmid.us/22892813.

[5] Belyaeva YA et al. Effects of acute and chronic administration of exorphin C on behavior and learning in white rat pups. Moscow University Biological Sciences Bulletin Volume 64, Number 2 (2009), 66-70, DOI: 10.3103/S0096392509020035. http://www.springerlink.com/content/qt537481061656gt/?MUD=MP.

[6] Messerli FH. Chocolate consumption, cognitive function, and Nobel laureates. N Engl J Med. 2012 Oct 18;367(16):1562-4. doi: 10.1056/NEJMon1211064. Epub 2012 Oct 10. http://pmid.us/23050509.

Leave a comment ?

142 Comments.

  1. Ah, an issue close to my heart. I’ll add another paper of a dose-response trial on LDL susceptibility to oxidation http://jhs.pharm.or.jp/data/50%286%29/50_679.pdf The graphs make it clear, 35g of cocoa (36 actually) is better than less for preventing this LDL oxidation. So right in line with your conclusion 🙂

    The copper-oxidation assay is a little iffy sometimes, but I think it’s a lot more valid for determining what protects a lipoprotein in vivo than what destroys a lipoprotein in vivo.

  2. But its addictive! Things that are addictive can’t be good. One of my new criteria for judging the healthiness of something for my kids, whether its media or food is whether they will start obsessing about it and throwing fits if they don’t get it. Well that’s what I am like with chocolate. Bad sign.

    • Make them eat half of their cocoa plain and dry. Builds character, dag nabit.

    • Hi Todd,

      Well, the alternative theory is that it’s only bad if you don’t get your fix. In regard to chocolate, that’s the theory I’m sticking with.

    • Maybe increase the cacao percentage until the addictiveness factor goes away, but is still enjoyable. I suspect addictiveness doesn’t normally occur with 100% cacao unsweetened chocolate and there might be a level that tastes good without being addictive.

      • I can confirm that it is the sugar, not the cocoa that is addictive – for me anyway.

        I can finish a 70% bar in a heartbeat, but the higher in cocoa I go, the smaller the quantity I eat and the less I crave it.

        I now eat just 100% (not trying to be smug – OK, just a little bit!) and although I enjoy it far more than the ‘lesser’ bars, I don’t crave it.

        I really do enjoy it, but it seems to be more like a real food than a junk food. I eat it regularly, but have no problem in just having a little.

        If your in the UK, Hotel Chocolate do few excellent ones – single estate, quality processing etc.

    • In my own N=1 experiments, it is the sugar in chocolate that is addictive….I make my own sugar free chocolate using coconut butter, coconut oil, pure organic cacao powder, nuts and a teeny bit of dried sour cherry and a tiny bit of stevia….I don’t get the addictive (I can’t stop eating it till its gone) hit I get from store bought chocolate. I do however eat a lot of it because it is now a health food 🙂

  3. i had a strange addiction. maybe you can help me figure out.

    since switching diet, i kept going darker & darker in the “brown food” department.

    finally i just dried roasted my own own 100% cacao beans.
    it tastes bitter but i like it that way, very intense & undiluted.

    but then at one point i realized i an addiction when sitting i consumed 1/2 small jar of cacao beans everyday. (it had to be for 100% beans. i don’t care for anything else that much.)

    then it gave me constipation + brain warm buzz (too much caffeine?). anyway, took me a while to kick the addiction.

    (is cacao bean or fruit? i believe it has toxins. that’s why it is not friendly to my digestive system.)

    but this leads me to quite skeptical about the FR. because most people consider 100% bitter & unpalatable.

    regards,

  4. this all applies to cocoa powder too, right?

  5. Great post Paul.
    Chocolate contains tetrahydrobetacarbolines – similar to harmaline, the hallucinogen in yage/ahahuasca, and highly antioxidant. Also found in garlic and tobacco.

    I mix bournville cocoa to a stiff paste with cream to get a no-sugar dark chocolate mousse.

    • Hi George-
      I didn’t realize that chocolate (and garlic/tobacco) contained a similar hallucinogen as ayahuasca. This is quite fascinating and will research this further. When I eat pure cacao beans it causes a hallucinogenic response. I see colours of light flashing about for a little while. I do notice rapid heartbeat though so rarely eat it solo. It might account for the desire I have to eat dark chocolate though given as it relaxes me and helps bring on the bliss feeling. Like the recipe you shared. Need to find a cream replacement as there is no dairy consumed due to casein allergy. If you have any other info regarding the similarities in this hallucinogen….would appreciate hearing about it.

  6. What about the additives that are in almost all of the chocolate that is out there without going to an exorbitant price? I am trying to stay away from soy lecithin and the assorted gums. Almost off of the store available chocolate that I find has this items added to it. Is this ‘bad’ for you and can eating it outweigh the health positives of eating it? What type of dark chocolate were they eating?

    • Try doing what I do to avoid the nasty additives at a reasonable price.

      I melt a tablespoon or two of a good grass-fed butter (you could use cocoa butter, but it’s more expensive), add a dash of vanilla, and then mix in enough 100% pure, non-Dutch-process cocoa powder (Ghirardelli at my grocery costs about $7 for 16oz) and a bit of pure cane or coconut sugar to get a paste (it will be grainy still but I like that). I have NO idea what “percentage” this equates to as my amounts tend to be REALLY casual and based on how sweet or bitter I want it to be at that particular moment, but then I really don’t care either (grin). Sometimes I add some cinnamon, or a TINY bit of peppermint or orange extract just for variety.
      A little messier than a bar, but eating it with a spoon is fun too and makes the treat last longer. I would guess that if you spread it out and put it in the fridge for a while it would harden up nicely, but I make it a rule NOT to make extra and store it because having to actually make it fresh each time means no mindless grabbing and gobbling.
      So, more fun, less expensive, AND I know exactly what’s in it.

    • I make a cocoa using 1 1/2 T cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp green stevia powder, whisked into 8oz water and boiled briefly. Then add 1/2 tsp vanilla. Not as yummy as some of the bars I have been sampling, but not as addictive or as expensive either.

  7. Would the same appy to coffee? Unsweetened chocolate tastes like coffee to me.

  8. FWIW, I reviewed this issue a couple years ago based on human studies from the late 2000s. My conclusion then:

    What’s the healthy “dose” of dark chocolate?

    No one is sure. It’s certainly no more than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) a day, and the optimal dose may be as low as 20 grams every three days. If you eat too much, it will make you fat. 100 grams is 500 calories; that’s probably way too much. Even if you start eating 20 grams – 100 calories – every three days, you will gain weight unless you give up some other food or exercise a little more.

    -Steve

    • Hi Steve,

      It’s true that you have to give up some other calories when you eat chocolate, but most people will do that naturally. I don’t believe there’s anything obesity-promoting in dark chocolate — it’s low in sugar and the fats are healthy and low in omega-6 — it’s just a calorie source. Olive oil may be more obesogenic than dark chocolate.

      I would agree that 100 g is too much.

      Best, Paul

  9. Hi Paul,

    I love chocolate, but feel I have to give a little warning. Too much (person depending) chocolate can be dangerous. The poisoness theobromine in it can cause heart problems in many people (and certainly in animals). I would say:”Don’t overdo it on the chocolate, especialy when you experiance symptoms (beat, rytm, blood preasure) after consuming it”.

    VBR Hans

    • Hi Hans,

      Thanks for the warning, I’ll have to look into theobromine toxicity. Thyroid issues might be the biggest concern.

      That might be one of the causes of pam’s experience.

      • How does chocolate affect the thyroid? Sorry if you have covered this already!

        • Hi Lizzie,

          I have to research whether it can have negative effects. Don’t know yet.

          • I remember reading about the benefits of dark chocolate when sunny Sunday afternoon, and decided to go to the store to get me a large bar of 100% Dutch Baking Chocolate. A couple bites later and the bar was gone. A couple hours later, and I had to go the ER because I was having intense heart palpitations. Haven’t touched chocolate since then. I just can’t control myself when it comes to chocolate, it is highly addictive for me.

    • According to Wikipedia, for a 170 lb male to get to the LD50 lethal dose (i.e., the dose amount that kills 50% of subjects), he would need to ingest 48 4-oz bars of dark chocolate, or over 12 pounds total.

      The oldest person who ever lived, Jeanne Calment, weighed 99 lb three years before her death, and she used to eat over 2 lbs of chocolate a week (about 130 grams per day). I’m not sure if that was milk chocolate or dark chocolate, but she was French, so it was likely of a higher quality than Hershey’s.

  10. Paul,
    Chocolate is calorie dense, so it peaked my interest in your view (as i wait for the book) on your thoughts on is a calorie a calorie or you do you believe you can eat more calories on a LC diet vs a SAD diet and still lose weight.
    From all my readings etc i do fall in the camp that the composition of food and its affects on the metabolism and hormones drives the process and not just the # of calories. The body is not a calorimeter (burning food to ash and measuring heat – way more complex). So it nags me when i hear the fitness pundits say, “Just restrict or cut calories and for every 3,500 you cut or burn, in excess of daily needs, you will loose a pound of fat”. Your thoughts.
    Tx

    • Hi Evan,

      I agree. Healthy foods do not disturb the body’s weight regulation mechanisms and if you eat more of them, you just eat less of something else. Unhealthy foods do disrupt homeostasis and lead to increased calorie intake. But it is not just individual foods, a balanced nourishing diet minimizes total calorie intake while an unbalanced malnourishing diet increases calorie intake.

      Excess calories can go multiple places, muscle or fat for instance. But in general, the diet which minimizes appetite also maximizes allocation of energy to muscles, so it’s a fair approximation to say that excess calories go to fat.

      But simply cutting calories will make a bad diet even more malnourishing, so that’s not adequate advice to the obese. They need to learn how to eat more healthfully, not how to eat less.

  11. “The opioid receptor has a role in circadian rhythms, which is one reason low-dose naltrexone (which blocks opioid function at night) works.”

    How then does one explain all the people getting great results with LDN using *morning* dosing?

    It appears that LDN works simply by blocking the zeta opioid receptor for a few hours and thereby leading to upregulation of OGF synthesis and receptors and hence more OGF signaling the rest of the day. I’m not sure what evidence exists to suggest an additional role for circadian rhythm enhancement.

    This idea made a little intuitive sense in the days of the initial nighttime dosing LDN protocol, but now that it’s clear AM dosing can work very nicely I’m not sure it’s very plausible.

  12. Whenever my mom eats chocolate (any kind- dark, milk, etc) she always breaks out, only on the skin on her nose. It looks red and kinda bumpy for a day or two after she’s eaten chocolate. What could that mean?

  13. Are there any downsides or negative effects of chocolate consumption?

    • Well, Hans above has mentioned some. All bioactive compounds become toxic in excess. This is why one should eat a diversity of plant foods — not too much of any one, even chocolate.

    • Yep, gives me a migraine. Dang.

      • Some years ago, my father, a medical doctor who suffers migraine, learnt that chocolate does not bring on migraine. as he had thought (and as Holly also appears to believe).

        Rather, the biological processes that brought on the migraines were also triggering a strong desire for chocolate, however this was occurring before any of the other migraine symptoms became evident, giving the appearance that the chocolate was causing the migraine.

        My father enjoys chocolate to this day, but with better control of the migraines there is no longer a correlation with his chocolate consumption.

  14. A lot of these are epidemiological studies. Surely you of all people know making blanket statements based on such studies is irresponsible? We evolved our big brains and lived perfectly healthy lives for millions of years without a bar of chocolate a day, so I for one, am skeptical.

    • Hi Reams,

      I don’t believe eating chocolate is necessary for health, but I think it gives pleasure and seems to be, all things considered, healthful, so why not eat it?

      Not all of the studies I cited are epidemiological, and in any case there have been other studies elucidating the mechanisms by which chocolate compounds affect the body. Dietary choices are a weighing of the evidence, we don’t deal in certainties for most foods. I think the case for chocolate, like the case for green tea and red wine, is reasonably good. You can overdose on all of them, but in low doses they all seem to be beneficial for most people.

  15. Hey Paul, I eat a bit of chocolate every day, typically 80% – 90% from a brand like Taza since they’re local to our neighborhood!

    Anyhow, I’ve read before about cacao increasing insulin sensitivity and yet at the same time, it also amplifies the insulin response (which could be why in a healthy person, their blood sugar comes down more quickly) similar to the effect when drinking milk (way more insulin than expected for the amount of sugar & protein).

    See here: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/10/3149.full

    Think this contributes to the insulin sensitizing effect in a healthy person?

    • Hi Chris,

      That’s been mentioned as one possible benefit from chocolate, and it may be a major reason for its prevention of diabetes. It also may be a source of longevity benefits, since high insulin sensitivity is a characteristic of the long lived. Jeanne Calment supposedly ate 2 pounds a day of chocolate up to age 119.

    • Speaking of milk and chocolate. Can anyone recommend a good chocolate mix to add to raw milk for my chocolate milk loving kids? Thanks in advance 🙂

  16. Dark Chocolate is Healthy « Take Away Points - pingback on November 4, 2012 at 10:15 am
  17. Beware the PGPR in many chocolate products : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PGPR

  18. Noting 35 g dark chocolate contains 0.6 mg copper, 0.4 g omega-6, 28 mg caffeine in case those things matter to some folks.

    https://cronometer.com/food.html?food=4587&grams=35&measure=-1

    • Yes, another good point. Jeanne Calment would have been getting 6 mg copper per week from her 2 lb chocolate which would have been a meaningful, health improving amount (not far from our recommendation).

  19. Just had one square (11.25 g) of Ghirardelli Intense Midnight reverie 86% Cacao. I get it at Shoprite in the 90 grams bars when on sale for $1.99 or $2.49 a bar. It’s my go-to travel snack when i have a long flight somewhere, the entire 90 gram bar while i watch a movie (airline food is just not healthy nor LC).

    In an attempt to reduce my LDL, i am following your supplement recommendation to a tee, as well as adding 1.5 cups of rice (white and/or brown) a day for carbs.

    One thing i notice is a change in attitude. More relaxed, easy going and less stressed. The carbs or the iodine? Not sure. But my lack of patience has subsided.

    I do have one more question (as i wait for the book – the suspense is killing me, so i keep reading all the previous articles on your site).

    My question is derived from your comment that one of the 3 pillars to keeping LDL low is removing toxins.

    One food i added, as i craved a crunch, and i substitute for chips are Pork Skin pellets (aka uncooked pork rinds). They microwave in their own natural fat.

    http://www.amazon.com/Microwave-Rinds-Pounds-Shipping-Gluten/dp/B003EFJTS2/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1352053698&sr=8-10&keywords=microwave+porkrinds

    Question: Do these have “toxins”, perhaps high Omega 6? or something that could have rocketed by LDL?

    thanks Paul.

  20. Thanks so much for this – love this – exactly what I want to hear! 🙂 I love Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate. Ingredients: chocolate. Just chocolate! And how convenient – each square is 28g!

    Funny how some people don’t like chocolate. Can’t imagine that. I used to wish I was like my grandfather who didn’t like chocolate (or bananas or sweets). Now I can happily eat my square of chocolate every day!

  21. A friend of mine has taken to eating cocoa beans shoved inside a half or whole date. It’s good. I haven’t found a local source for the beans yet, but I like the idea of replacing one more packaged product with a more natural version.

  22. I cannot do chocolate as I will become shaky due to the fat and sugar mixture. It was dark very dark chocolate too 80 + %. I’m a young guy without blood sugar problems, i just notice things more now that I’m about 6 years into very strict paleo.

  23. I eat dark chocolate when I need a boost for work-related tasks. Coffee has too much caffeine for me. Tea might work equally well, but my hunch is chocolate works better in my case.

    However I have to be careful. I ate some at night recently and had some of the toxicity symptoms mentioned above (this was on top of a physically very stressful day.) Also I think when I eat a daily small dose, while it might not initially have any negative effects, at some point I start to have difficulty sleeping and toxicity symptoms. So I usually just have it once or twice a week.

  24. Trader Joe provided this when I asked about the flavonoids:

    The baking cocoa has approximately 4 grams of polyphenols expressed as garlic acids per 100 grams of product. These antioxidants correspond mainly to flavonoids catechin and epicatechin (particularly dimmers-sic; do they mean dimers?)

    I know that Mars -the candy people — has done a ton of research and has a product, cocoa via. They also have proposed a standard way of measuring cocoa antioxidants. Sorry I don’t have link.

  25. Oops! Meant Gallic acid, of course

  26. i started craving chocolate BADLY about a year ago when i had been very indifferent to it before.

    what would cause this? hormones?

    • Hi Holly,

      I don’t know. Could be a nutrient deficiency (carbs, magnesium, copper, zinc) leading to hunger for the missing nutrient. Or could be something with the opioid system that makes the opioid peptides in chocolate have a bigger effect. But I’m not sure what does that. Something to look into.

    • I tend to notice a direct correlation between my magnesium supplementation and chocolate cravings. When using more Mg I become more indifferent to chocolate.

  27. Hi Paul,

    Would love to know your take on the phytic acid in chocolate. Is it bound to the minerals or does the fermentation in chocolate making process from raw cacao beans make the minerals bio-available?

    • Hi Sapna,

      I think the chocolate making process does destroy phytic acid and make minerals more bioavailable.

      However, I wouldn’t be concerned about it even if it didn’t. I don’t think phytic acid in natural plants, where it is bound to minerals, is a significant problem as long as one doesn’t get excessive amounts by eating a lot of grains (excluding white rice, which doesn’t have much phytate).

      Moreover, I wouldn’t count on chocolate for the bulk of my nutritional needs. So I don’t think either the phytic acid levels in chocolate, or the bioavailability of its minerals, should be a major concern.

  28. I’ve read pro and con about raw chocolate, the con being that it can be damaging to the liver. Any opinion?

    • I don’t really have an opinion, but if the data on Dutching destroying 60% of the bioactive cocoa compounds are correct, then you would expect to reach toxicity from raw chocolate at maybe 1/3 the dose of processed chocolate.

  29. Weekend Link Love - Edition 215 | Mark's Daily Apple - pingback on November 11, 2012 at 11:00 am
  30. Chocolate: What is the Optimal Dose? « healingjournies - pingback on November 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm
  31. One more caution about chocolate: I was having chest pains recently and think it was because of esophogeal spasms. According to one site describing esophogeal spasms, they mentioned that chocolate loosens the valve between the stomach and the esophogus, allowing acid to escape.

    I think I just need to find the right amount for me, though. 35g doesn’t sound like much.

    • Theobromine is the culprit there, I believe. And it’s in coffee and tea as well.

      • as well as Theobromine, if your chocolate contains Caffeine it could be that as well.
        http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/28/11/1296.full.pdf
        Both are methylxanthines.
        These seem to weaken the LES (lower esophageal sphincter, muscle at the top of stomach).

        And, here’s a question on the subject,
        does anyone know how to strengthen the LES.
        Prevention would be best, so avoid foods that weaken the LES.
        But is there anything that would speed up recovery of this muscle.

        A pubmed search shows that GABA(B) may help.
        So i wonder if the GABA supplement would help?

  32. I eat four pieces of homemade fudge every day. It’s an outstanding delivery vehicle for coconut oil, allowing me to eat a cup of oil each week. Along with pastured butter, this is most of my saturated fat since I eat only seafood, nuts, fruit, and veg. My wife developed the recipe. Basically, free trade dark cocoa powder, coconut flakes, coconut oil, almond butter, and a small amount of local honey (2 tbsp in the entire week-long batch for two people). Very rich, delicious, and fulfilling. Great on those late nights of writing.

    • Any chance your wife is up for sharing the recipe? I nearly tossed these ingredients together tonight but figured I would end up mangling it into a fudge-like goop.

      • Yes! I’d love the recipe too.

      • Maybe the Swedes are onto something with this somewhat simpler variation with only two ingredients …

        Ischoklad is a popular Swedish Christmas treat, usually made using just chocolate (half to two thirds) and coconut oil (a third to a half).

        Swedish Ischoklad (Melting Ice Chocolate Treats)

        For this recipe you will need: (makes around 40)
        200 grams Chocolate
        100 grams Pure Coconut Fat (this is what gives the ice chocolate that melting ice effect as coconut fat melts at 20C / 68F)

        Preparation:

        1. Melt the chocolate and coconut fat using a water bath (bain-marie). Using a glass bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water. Make sure the water isn’t boiling on to the glass bowl, that can make the chocolate too hot. It should melt by the steam.

        2. Spread your aluminum mini cups on a tray (that will fit in your fridge). Add the melted chocolate/coconut mix in the aluminum cups using a easy to pour container.

        3. Leave your ice chocolates on the tray in the fridge until set. Enjoy.

        4. Eat straight away or leave the chocolate balls to cool in the fridge.

        Festive Holiday Tip:

        Add a couple drops of mint in the melted ice chocolate for winter holiday effect.

  33. I think we need to be skeptical of the magic power of chocolate. Gary Taubes wrote a great article on the bad science that lead to the conclusion that beef is bad and chocolate is good and this is a repeat of the exact same low standard of evidence…

    So lets all take a deep breath before we see the birth of “chocolate deficiency”

    Chocolate & Red Meat Can Be Bad for Your Science: Why Many Nutrition Studies Are All Wrong by Gary Taubes

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2012/04/05/chocolate-red-meat-can-be-bad-for-your-science-why-many-nutrition-studies-are-all-wrong/

  34. Chokolade … « Levned og meninger - pingback on November 12, 2012 at 4:22 am
  35. Plamil, a UK chocolate brand, makes some of its dark chocolate (70% I believe) with xylitol as the sole sweetener. So you get the benefits of chocolate AND xylitol at the same time. It is not addictive and I give a couple of pieces to my kids on a daily basis.

  36. Just came across your web site and love the info on it. Especially this one on chocolate.

  37. The December 2012 issue of Psychology Today has a one page article (Fudging It, pg 50) on the benefits of chocolate.

    It highlights the Kuna Indians living off the coast of Panama who drink five cups a day of a bitter cocoa beverage. These Kuna folks have unusually low rates of heart disease and cancer.

    Bitterness is considered an indicator of high content flavanol phytonutrients and that Dutch processing (alkalinization) reduces the beneficial flavanols.

  38. CrossFit 312 » Blog Archive » 11.19.12 - pingback on November 19, 2012 at 1:01 am
  39. I am also not convinced that chocolate is something healthy in the same way that, say, meat is. I would like to see more double-blind controlled experiments rather than observational studies (which are not very telling, IMO). Here’s one that doesn’t show any benefits of 37g of chocolate: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400709.

    I think that if chocolate does confer some health benefits, it is due to hormesis, where the body gets stronger by dealing with toxins or stress, and not because of the nutrients it provides. In this way, it is similar to alcohol. If this is true, then it should be used with the same caution and should not generally be recommended to people with pre-existing health conditions (like most readers of this blog). Like alcohol and caffeine, it overstimulates your nervous system.

    I’m not an extremist, so am not advocating complete abstinence. If you enjoy it, sure, have some for dessert once in a while. I just want to be realistic. I see an article like this as a justification of a bad habit. There is no need for chocolate. It’s not a food we evolved with – like meat, fruits, nuts, vegetables. Chocolate-eaters (like the French centenarian) live to that age IN SPITE of eating chocolate, not BECAUSE of it.

  40. I freaking love chocolate! But….alas it has too much copper for me which I have an excess of (and not enough zinc). I will hopefully be able to indulge further down the track but not at the moment, which makes me sad.

  41. Do cocoa beans not contain the same toxins of other beans? have read a lot of blogs about being being mineral deficient from including cocoa powder in daily routines.. and then becoming balanced again after discontinuing the powder.

    • Hi BS,

      I don’t believe cocoa can induce mineral deficiencies. It may provide too much of some things if you eat a lot; or you may be thinking of mineral deficiencies stimulating appetite for cocoa, which is fairly mineral rich.

      I think moderate doses of chocolate, like 30 g per day, should be healthful.

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