Chocolates contain caffeine, but the amount contained depends on the variety and serving size. However, the stimulating effect we get from eating chocolates, which is similar to drinking coffee, is not caffeine. The main ingredient from chocolates that give us a natural high is called theobromine. It is known to have a longer effect to the nervous system compared to coffee. It promotes blood flow and brain activity. This is the reason why chocolates are lethal to animals because once they have eaten chocolates their nervous system will go haywire. On the other hand, humans can produce chemicals that work well with the ones found in chocolates.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and is sometimes referred to as theine when found in teas. It is a xanthine alkaloid found in the coffee tree’s leaves and beans. Caffeine is found in small doses in cacao and kola nut which is an ingredient in making cola beverages. It is also an effective natural pesticide in plants which paralyzes and kills many insects. Chocolates, which are made from cacao beans, contain small amounts of caffeine but does not provide the same effects compared to the caffeine found in coffee. Chocolate is also considered a stimulant due to its theophylline and theobromine content.
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid found in the cacao plant where chocolates are made from. It is also called xantheose and belongs to the methylxanthine class of chemical compounds similar to theophylline and caffeine. The name theobromine comes from Theobroma which is a classification of the cacao tree. Even though it is considered to be similar to caffeine, it has a lesser effect on our central nervous system. Theobromine has been known to contribute to the belief that chocolates are aphrodisiacs and is known to increase heartbeat and dilate blood vessels which helps reduce blood pressure. However, theobromine which can be safely consumed by humans is deadly to animals. Small dogs can be poisoned if fed with chocolates from as little as 50 grams of chocolate.
The following is a table of caffeine and theobromine contents found in chocolates:
- White chocolate 3 oz.bar or 1c, chips 0.0mg 0.0 mg
- Baking chocolate, unsweetened- 1oz. 57.12 mg 346.36 mg
- Semi-sweet chocolate/chocolate chips- 1oz.17.57 mg 137.78 mg
- Milk chocolate – 1.55 ounce bar 11.440mg 74.360 mg
- Cocoa mix – 1 envelope/3 heaping tsp 5.040mg 169.68mg
- Cocoa powder, unsweetened – 1 tbsp 2.420mg 111.078mg
All of the favorite chocolate choices contain caffeine which is less than the average American cup of coffee average of 75mg. per cup. Therefore, while chocolates contain a small amount of caffeine, the stimulating effect we get from eating them isn’t caffeine-based. Instead, it is a natural high from a special chemical found in chocolates. This is certainly stimulating news for anyone who feels good from eating chocolate.