MYTH #1: Chocolate is high in caffeine
MYTHBUSTER You’d have to eat a giant hunk to get a jolt: a standard 50g bar of milk chocolate contains 10mg of caffeine, whereas a 225ml cup of regular coffee has up to 100mg. So unless you’re very sensitive to caffeine, it shouldn’t keep you up. That said, eating a bit of chocolate after dinner can stimulate acid reflux in some people, says dietitian Bonnie Taub-Dix. “In that case, you wouldn’t want to have it before bed,” she says.
MYTH #2: Chocolate boosts sexual desire
MYTHBUSTER The latest thinking is, probably not. “Historically chocolate has been associated with sensuality and sexuality, but this may not have a medical biological rationale,” says Dr Michael L. Krychman, a clinical sexual counsellor and authority on sexual health. Some of its ingredients may enhance our mood, and some older studies linked chocolate to sexual function, but no research in the past few years has shown that it improves sexual arousal.
MYTH #3: Dark chocolate is a superfood
MYTHBUSTER It has healthy ingredients, but sadly, it’s hardly up there with fresh fruit and veg for nutritional benefits. The cacao in chocolate is rich in flavanols – phytochemicals that act as antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory effects, and induce vasodilation, which lowers blood pressure. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the darker the chocolate and the more flavanols. But “darker doesn’t mean it’s low in sugar, fat or calories,” says Joshua Lambert, a nutrition biochemist. Dark chocolate is a fine treat, but don’t seek it out for its health perks.
MYTH #4: You crave chocolate when your hormone levels are fluctuating
MYTHBUSTER If you do, your desire is cultural and psychological, not biological, per a 2017 study that found the more westernised women were the more likely they were to say they had chocolate cravings around menstruation. Your chocolate desire is real but is likely triggered by your thoughts and reinforced by happy memories.
MYTH #5: People with diabetes should avoid chocolate
MYTHBUSTER Finally, something we want to hear: dark chocolate actually has a low glycaemic index, meaning it won’t cause an unhealthy spike in your blood sugar levels. That doesn’t mean you can go nuts, but a higher percentage of cocoa solids usually means there’s less sugar added. “Chocolate is rich and flavourful, so if you make it last, appreciate it, and aren’t eating entire big bars, you should be able to enjoy it,” says Taub-Dix. She recommends buying small, individually wrapped pieces rather than breaking off part of a larger bar so you’ll be less likely to overdo it.