Chocolate does contain some caffeine

People's Pharmacy

Health & Fitness

July 25, 2004|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,King Features Syndicate

You really blew it in your response to a person concerned about the health effects of chocolate. You said there's no caffeine in chocolate. My doctor told me to stay away from coffee and chocolate because caffeine could throw my heart out of rhythm.

Last year I developed an abnormal heart rhythm and had to be electrically shocked to get back into normal rhythm. I'm avoiding caffeine since I don't want to go through that again.

We may have overstated the case. As we specified, the primary ingredient in chocolate is theobromine, a compound related to caffeine. One chemical analysis (Biochemist, April / May 1993) showed no detectable caffeine in chocolate. Other sources list a small amount of caffeine in cocoa and chocolate candy, perhaps because of different analytic techniques.

For comparison, a 5-ounce cup of coffee has 80 to 115 milligrams of caffeine. A 12-ounce can of cola runs around 40 to 50 milligrams, and so does a cup of tea. A cup of decaf coffee or cocoa has 4 milligrams, and an ounce of milk chocolate is listed as having about 6 milligrams of caffeine. An ounce of dark chocolate might vary from 5 milligrams to 25 milligrams.

For most people, this amount of caffeine is not a problem. For you, however, the consequences of eating chocolate are probably too serious to risk it.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 888 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10019, or e-mail them from their Web site, www.

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