Facts and furphies about chocolate

You may have heard that too much chocolate causes pimples or can even be used as an aphrodisiac. There aren’t many foods with as many myths about them as chocolate, and we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction.

It’s hard to escape chocolate over the Easter weekend. Whether its eggs, bunnies or a box of Roses, chocolate is synonymous with Easter.

As a widely loved favourite, chocolate has been the subject of many claims over the years about both its benefits and disadvantages.

It can be hard to know what to believe, so we’ve busted some of the most common chocolate myths for you.

Chocolate is addictive

It might seem like chocolate is addictive, but there is little evidence to support that. Instead, what keeps you coming back to chocolate box over and over again is the sugar.

Studies have shown that sugar produces reactions inside us that are similar to those produced by illicit drugs. Try low-sugar chocolate if you find yourself unable to resist.

Dark chocolate is good for me

It’s true that research has shown dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that can lower blood pressure and your risk of heart disease, due to its higher cocoa content.

But often significant numbers of flavonoids are removed during the manufacturing process in order to reduce the bitter taste of pure cocoa.

Then, to make chocolate, cocoa powder is typically mixed with sugar, cocoa butter, vegetable oils and milk powder – which counteract any benefit the small increase in flavonoids might bring.

Chocolate is an aphrodisiac

Certain ancient civilisations, such as the Aztecs and Maya, believed chocolate to have an aphrodisiac effect and associated it with fertility.

While chocolate does contain phenylethylamine and serotonin, which can boost your mood and act as a mild sexual stimulant, they are not present in large enough amounts to make much difference.

It’s thought the link between chocolate and sex is more psychological than physical. Eating chocolate makes you feel good, boosting your mood and confidence.

Chocolate contains high amounts of caffeine

It is true chocolate contains some caffeine but whether it could be called a high amount is up for debate.

A 50-gram portion of milk chocolate contains around 19 milligrams of caffeine, while a typical shot of espresso contains somewhere in the range of 95-100 milligrams.

As a result, chocolate can boost your energy levels to a small degree, but won’t give you the feeling of over-stimulation that coffee can.

Chocolate causes migraines

Although many migraine sufferers report their headaches can be triggered by chocolate, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back this up.

In fact, the evidence seems to point to chocolate having more benefits for migraine sufferers than negatives.

It’s thought the association between chocolate and migraines is due to people tending to crave chocolate when highly stressed – which is a trigger for migraines.

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Written by Brad Lockyer

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