Monday, March 10, 2008

Caffeine? Not so much...

We field lots of questions at Bittersweet about stimulants in chocolate, and, specifically, how much caffeine there is. Well, the answer is: not all that much.

Typically, there's about as much caffeine in 100g of 70% chocolate as there is in a decaf espresso (about 15 milligrams, if you want to get specific), so if it's caffeine you're worried about (or looking for), you're not going to find it around here, unless you're drinking coffee or tea.

The more interesting part of the story is the stimulant that's unique to chocolate: Theobromine. Theobromine acts less directly on the central nervous system than does its cousin caffeine, and is associated with increased heartbeat and dialation of blood vessels, resulting in lowered blood pressure. It also combines with Anandamides in chocolate fats to increase seratonin production, typically increasing a sense of well-being.

But if you're thinking of eating or drinking significant quantities of chocolate right before bed, think again. Theobromine still packs a stimulant punch! Our prescription: take small doses regularly throughout the day :-)

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