From fat content to acne to your sex drive, there are some big claims out there about chocolate. Check out these common chocolate myths and the truth about chocolate.
When it comes to chocolate and health, the trick isn’t avoiding chocolate altogether. It’s making smart choices. Sure, if you eat a whole Hershey’s bar, you’re not doing your health any favors. But a few squares of good, dark chocolate can actually be beneficial. You can also add 1-3 teaspoons of cocoa powder to a smoothie recipe to instantly transform it into a healthy, chocolatey treat. The sugars from the fruit will offset the cocoa powder’s bitterness. Start with a teaspoon, taste, and add more until you get just the right balance.
The information below is based on a one ounce serving of 70 percent dark chocolate or one tablespoon of cocoa powder. An ounce of dark chocolate is about a quarter cup, grated. That’s usually about 1/3 of a regular-sized chocolate bar.
Chocolate Myth #1: Chocolate is high in fat.
This is true of a chocolate bar, but not all chocolate is high in fat. While an ounce of dark chocolate contains 12 grams of fat (7 grams of saturated fat), cocoa powder is actually a low fat food. A tablespoon of cocoa powder has just one gram of fat and zero grams saturated fat. So add cocoa powder to your smoothies or baking without worry!
Like I mention above, an ounce of dark chocolate is a very generous serving – about 1/3 of a chocolate bar or about six typical-sized squares. If you treat yourself to a couple of squares of dark chocolate, you’re only looking at four grams of fat. Not too bad for a decadent treat!
Chocolate Myth #2: Chocolate is all empty calories.
This is another case of choosing the right chocolate. Most chocolatey treats are very sugary, but you don’t have to get your chocolate in a diluted cake-and-icing form. Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cocoa. That ounce of dark chocolate provides 19 percent of your daily iron and 2.2 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of the trace minerals copper and manganese.
Cocoa powder delivers a little less in the nutrition department, but it also contains only 12 calories. Not bad for a food that provides four percent of your daily iron needs and two grams of dietary fiber. It’s also a very good source of magnesium, phosphorous, copper and manganese.
Chocolate Myth #3: Chocolate is high in caffeine.
If you’re super sensitive to caffeine, I want to mention up front that chocolate definitely does contain this stimulant, but in a relatively low dose. An ounce of dark chocolate contains 22.4 mg of caffeine, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder has 12.1 mg. A one-cup serving of coffee, by comparison, contains 95 mg of caffeine. A small coffee at most coffee shops is a 12 ounce serving, which is a cup and a half or 142.5 mg of caffeine.
Chocolate Myth #4: Chocolate rots your teeth.
Sugary treats are definitely bad for your teeth, but like I’ve talked about a bit above, chocolate doesn’t have to be loaded with sugar. An ounce of dark chocolate has only seven grams of sugar — less than you’d find in a small apple — and a tablespoon of cocoa powder contains no sugar at all. In fact, one dentist shared four ways that chocolate may actually be good for your teeth.
If you do treat yourself to a sugary chocolate treat, brush your teeth as soon as possible afterwards.
Chocolate Myth #5: Chocolate is an aphrodisiac.
I am sorry to report that there’s no conclusive proof that chocolate improves your libido. While there have been a few promising studies about chocolate and sex drive, there’s a lot of conflicting research out there. Of course, if eating a little bit of delicious chocolate makes you happy, there’s no reason to avoid it.
Chocolate Myth #6: Chocolate causes acne.
The myth about chocolate causing acne is at least 100 years old. There’s actually no conclusive research showing that chocolate causes acne. The trick with eating for healthy skin is that our bodies are all different. Spicy food is a good example here. I can eat a bowl of Thai-hot curry and then go about my day. That same bowl of curry puts my husband right out of commission. Food triggers for acne vary from person to person in the same way.