Principal Proposed Uses
Made from the beans of the cocoa tree, chocolate was first developed as a food in South America, where it was primarily consumed as a bitter beverage. Cocoa was not combined with sugar until the Spaniards brought chocolate back to Europe. The Latin name of the plant is Theobroma cocoa . "Theobroma" means food of the gods. Because of this, one of the stimulant substances in chocolate is named theobromine; this caffeine-related substance does not contain the element bromine.
What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Chocolate?
Chocolate is rich in antioxidants in the flavonol family, substances similar to those found in green tea , red wine, grapes, soy and other potentially healthful foods. However, this alone is not enough to prove that chocolate provides any health benefits. In gigantic studies of other strong antioxidants, such as vitamin E , none of the hoped-for benefits materialized. Only double-blind, placebo-controlled studies can prove a treatment effective, and for chocolate few have been performed. (For information on why such studies are essential, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-Blind Studies? )
In studies, the typical daily dose of flavanols from chocolate thought to offer a beneficial effect range widely from 30 to 500 mg per day.
The flavanol content of chocolate itself also varies widely. White chocolate contains little to no flavanols, commercial dark chocolate can contain as much as 500-2,000 mg of flavonols per 100 grams of chocolate. Special flavonol-enriched forms of chocolate are also available.
Most chocolate products are high in calories, and therefore could lead to weight gain.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- MAO inhibitors : The caffeine in chocolate could cause dangerous drug interactions.
- Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin: The stimulant effects of chocolate might be amplified.
- Drugs to prevent heart arrhythmias or treat insomnia , heartburn , ulcers , or anxiety : Chocolate might interfere with their action.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -