Did you know the world consumes over 200kg of chocolate per second? That’s a toxic quantity for about 40 people. How much did you eat this past weekend?
The nature of chocolate toxicity is a compound found in cacao/cocoa beans (the basis of chocolate) called theobromine. However, for a lethal dose of chocolate, the average human would need to consume over 5 kg, at least 50 chocolate bars at once! Augustus Gloop and Bruce Bogtrotter better be careful.
Most people are aware that chocolate is not okay for dogs, and presumably cats too, however, cats, unlike man’s best canine gluttons, likely won’t devour that entire Easter chocolate stash! The reality is that theobromine is more toxic to cats and dogs than it is to humans. They need to ingest less theobromine for their weight to reach a lethal dose. Think of humans as having a greater “tolerance” to theobromine than our pets. Shot for shot, bean for bean, we can eat and drink them under the chocolate bar!
Seriously though, theobromine can have beneficial effects for humans in low doses. Theobromine is very close to the molecular structure of caffeine, and it’s effects are similar. It is a stimulant and a vasodilator, so it increases your heart rate while reducing your blood pressure, and a reduction in blood pressure is beneficial for your cardiac health. One study showed that a reasonable amount of theobromine, such as the levels found in a 70 gram chocolate bar, have antitussive effects greater than codeine. So when you want to suppress that cough, try chocolate instead of Buckleys.
Like caffeine, theobromine can cause restlessness, sleeplessness and a loss of appetite. These days, less is more and sleep is for the weak right? Theobromine is also widely regarded as an aphrodisiac and can increase your libido, which is probably why chocolate is so popular on Valentine's day. So next time you’re pulling that all-nighter for work or feel like going all night, consider chocolate! Keep in mind, theobromine is found in cacao and not in sugar. So to maximize the benefits of theobromine without compromising your health, cross over to the dark side and avoid sugary milk chocolate by sticking to darker blends of at least 65% cacao.
Fun Fact: M & M’s (candy coated chocolates) were invented so soldiers could carry chocolate without it melting.