by Mark Tarses

Caffeine. It is widely believed that chocolate has a lot of caffeine in it. In fact, there is very little caffeine in chocolate. A 1.5 ounce milk chocolate bar contains 10 mg (milligrams) of caffeine, about the same as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. A cup of hot cocoa has 5 mg. Compare that to a cup of coffee, which contains 130 to 200 mg of caffeine. You would have to eat A LOT of chocolate to get a caffeine jolt.

Acne/Pimples. A lot of teenagers give up eating chocolate in the belief that chocolate causes acne. This is not true. A number of university studies have found no difference in the frequency of pimples or acne in teenagers who ate a lot of chocolate versus teenagers who ate no chocolate at all.

Allergies. Some people really are allergic to chocolate, but a true chocolate allergy is uncommon. A bad reaction to eating chocolate is usually caused by the other ingredients in the product. For example, if you have an allergic reaction to eating Reese's peanut butter cups, that allergic reaction is more likely due to the peanut butter than the chocolate. If you suspect a food allergy, see a board-certified allergist for a diagnosis.

Bakers chocolate has nothing to do with bakers or bakeries. America's first chocolate factory was built in 1765 in Dorchester, Massachusetts by Dr. James Baker. The company is still in business.

German chocolate isn't German. The German's Chocolate Co. was founded in 1852 by an Englishman named Sam German. German chocolate cake isn't German either. The recipe for this cake first appeared in a Dallas, Texas newspaper in 1957. The recipe was created by an employee of Kraft Foods, which owns German's Chocolate.

White chocolate isn't chocolate. It is a confection designed to approximate the texture of real chocolate, but there is no way to remove the brown color from real chocolate.

Hyperactivity. Contrary to popular myth, chocolate does not cause hyperactivity or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children, according to both the Food and Drug Administration and the 1988 Surgeon General's Report on Sugar and Health. So, why do kids go nuts at birthday parties after loading up on candy? Most experts believe that this is usually due to the excitement surrounding the party or celebration itself, rather than the foods that are being consumed. If you have a hyperactive child, you should check the caffeine level in the foods and beverages your kids are consuming. Caffeine consumption by kids in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1980. Caffeine is now being added to a lot of products that that didn't used to have any caffeine in them 20 years ago, including many brands of mints, chewing gum, candy bars, herbal supplements, energy drinks, fruit juice beverages, and sparkling water.

  • 4 very small Penguin mints contain as much caffeine as a cup of Starbucks French Roast coffee.
  • 2 Natural Balance Herbal Supplement capsules with Guarana contain as much caffeine as 4 - 12 ounce cans of Coke! Guarana is a South American plant with a very high level of caffeine in it. It is being added to an ever increasing number of vitamin tablets, herbal supplements, and beverages.
  • 2 Excedrin tablets also contain as much caffeine as 4 - 12 ounce cans of Coke. Doesn't that seem surprising?
  • Both Mountain Dew and Sunkist Orange Soda have far more caffeine in them than Coca Cola Classic, but as citrus fruit flavored beverages, most people wouldn't suspect that.

    Headaches. There is no scientific evidence that eating chocolate causes headaches.

    Carob. A lot of people buy carob in the belief that carob is better for you than chocolate. Actually, a carob bar has the same amount of fat and calories as a milk chocolate bar, and it doesn't taste as good!

    Junk Food. Is chocolate bad for you? In a study published in the British Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate chocolate 1 to 3 times a month lived almost a year longer than those who ate no chocolate at all. It was explained by the researchers that the phenols in chocolate (also contained in red wine and many fruits and vegetables), reduce the risk of heart disease. Chocolate can inhibit oxidation of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and therefore inhibit clogging of the arteries, as well as enhance immune function, leading to decreased risks of heart disease and cancer.

    Tooth decay. Of course, chocolate contains sugar, and any food containing sugar or starch can cause tooth decay. How often you eat these foods and how often you brush and floss your teeth are more important factors in dental health. The main cause of tooth decay is poor oral hygiene.

    Sugar. Chocolate is only a minor source of sugar in the diets of most people. According to the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), chocolate accounts for only 1.1% percent of the sugar in the diet of the average American. The main sources of sugar in the American diet are soft drinks, baked goods, and frozen desserts. A regular size (1.55 ounce) Hershey bar contains 90 calories of sugar. A 20 ounce bottle of Coke (the size most commonly sold in vending machines) contains 250 calories of sugar.

    Cholesterol. Contrary to popular belief, there is no cholesterol in chocolate. Cholesterol is found in animal fats, but it is also made by the body itself and is needed to help build cell walls as well as many hormones.

    Obesity. Can eating chocolate make you fat? Not if eaten in moderation. Of course, overeating chocolate (or nearly anything else) can make you fat! Obesity is caused by many factors: diet, physical activity, genetics, metabolism, & behavior.

    Dogs. Is chocolate toxic to dogs? Yes! This is not a myth! Eating chocolate really can kill a dog. Puppies are especially vulnerable. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which human beings can digest efficiently, but dogs can't. Never give a dog anything to eat with chocolate in it. If your dog has eaten chocolate, call a veterinarian immediately. Cats can also die from eating chocolate, but that is infrequent.

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