Does chocolate actually contain caffeine
Chocolate is a popular and highly consumed food product derived from cocoa bean (also referred to as cacao bean) found in cacao pods, growing from the trunk and lower branches of the cacao tree.
The cacao tree with the scientific name “Theobroma cacao” meaning “food of the gods” are tropical plants that grow in Africa, Central and South America and parts of Asia where the weather is hot (within 20° latitude of the equator)
Although cocoa originated in America, West African countries particularly Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana are the leading producers of cocoa in the 21st century, accounting for some 60% of the world cocoa supply.
The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor.
After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cocoa nibs which are then ground to cocoa mass, unadulterated chocolate in rough form.
The cocoa mass is liquefied by heating to give chocolate liquor. The liquor is cooled and processed into two major components, “cocoa solids and cocoa butter”.
Both components are used in making chocolate although the amounts differ based on the type of chocolate.
The caffeine content in chocolate
Naturally, the caffeine content in cocoa beans from which chocolate is derived varies with the type of beans and the degree of fermentation.
The main caffeine content in cacao pod is found in the shell or membrane which encloses the cacao beans. Cacao beans that have the shell or membrane removed before being processed to chocolate will contain almost zero caffeine.
This contains more caffeine, so a chocolate type that contains more cocoa solids than cocoa butter will have more caffeine content. In other words, the darker the chocolate is, the higher the caffeine content.
Cocoa butter contains little or no caffeine. Chocolates like white chocolate are made of cocoa which means they do not have caffeine as a constituent.
Note that some chocolate products may contain added caffeine to provide an extra energy boost some people may need, hence, the reason why some chocolate products contain a higher caffeine content.
How much caffeine is there in chocolate?
According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Data, the caffeine content of various types of chocolate includes;
- Dark chocolate (45 to 59% cocoa solids) contains 12.2 milligrams of caffeine
- Milk chocolate – 5.6 milligrams
- White chocolate – 0 milligrams
Theobromine and caffeine
Just like caffeine, theobromine is another compound found in cocoa solids. It is responsible for the bitter taste the dark chocolate possess.
Cocoa solids contain more amount of theobromine than caffeine. 50 grams of dark chocolate contains about 19 milligrams of caffeine and 250 milligrams of theobromine.
Milk chocolate usually contains half of that amount or even less sometimes, while white chocolate that contains no cocoa solids has zero theobromine content.
Theobromine just like caffeine can stimulate the central nervous system which in turn can elevate your feeling of alertness and positively affect your mood.
The Benefits of Theobromine
Are there effects of the caffeine content in chocolate?
Most times, the caffeine content is too little to be noticed in chocolate (dark chocolate) especially by coffee drinkers as they do not experience the energy boost as compared to what they get from drinking coffee.
People who are sensitive to caffeine may tend to notice it while some others who are not sensitive to caffeine may not notice after eating chocolate containing caffeine.
You are less likely to observe any energy boost or alertness after taking white chocolate even if you are sensitive to caffeine or a non-caffeine drinker as milk chocolate contains little or no caffeine.
A standard cup of coffee contains about 96miligrams of caffeine, which is four times higher than a serving of dark chocolate.
What chocolate type is healthier to consume?
The caffeine content in dark chocolate is relatively low and most times don’t call for a cause of alarm except a person is allergic to caffeine.
A small piece of dark chocolate could still help you stay alert if that is what you are looking for.
Milk and white chocolate may contain less or no caffeine but it still doesn’t make them healthier options, reasons that they tend to contain High amount of added sugars and unhealthy fats.
They also lack antioxidants and heart health benefits like dark chocolate. You should probably choose what goes well with your body system.
Dark chocolate is the major type of chocolate that contains caffeine. Still, the amount doesn’t compare to what coffee contains and may not be noticed especially by coffee consumers. It is also not too little to realign your focus and attention during a stressful day.