Does chocolate contain caffeine? How much is in dark, milk and white chocolate?

LWhether you prefer a hearty slice of chocolate cake or always have a candy bar on hand, chocolate is undeniably one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when topped off with a good dinner. However, given that chocolate contains caffeine, is your late-night indulgence secretly sabotaging your sleep?

That’s right: It’s not just coffee, black and green tea, and energy drinks that can keep you energized long after you hit the pillow. There are also foods that contain caffeine, including chocolate. But is chocolate really such a significant source of this stimulant that it’s keeping you from falling asleep or causing other symptoms like jitters? Read on to find out what the experts have to say.

Does chocolate contain caffeine or not?

Yes, most chocolates contain caffeine. But the amount varies depending on the cocoa and its percentage, how the chocolate was processed, and other factors, says Maddie Pasquariello, a Brooklyn-based registered dietitian and nutritionist.

“Milk chocolate has about 20 milligrams of caffeine per 100 grams,” Pasquariello says. “In dark chocolate, the level can vary a little more, from 50 to 150 milligrams per 100 grams.”

To put things in perspective, Pasquariello gives the example of a typical two-square serving (about 25 grams) of a chocolate bar. “If you’re eating milk chocolate, the caffeine content in a serving is about 5 milligrams, and for dark chocolate, it’s anywhere from 12 to 38 milligrams,” she explains. Meanwhile, a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting will contain about four to eight milligrams of this substance, according to the USDA.

Given that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that people consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, one or two squares of chocolate are really just a drop in the ocean.

Interestingly, chocolate also contains theobromine, a mild stimulant closely related to caffeine. 2015 Review1 in the newspaper Frontiers of PharmacologyThe dynamic duo has the potential to create buzz and is Also responsible for the pleasure you experience when consuming it.

Which chocolate contains the most caffeine?

As a general rule, the darker your chocolate, the more caffeine it contains. “Dark chocolate typically has at least three times more caffeine than milk chocolate,” Pasquariello notes.

White chocolate, on the other hand, is caffeine-free since it uses cocoa butter rather than cocoa solids, the latter of which provides caffeine as well as other beneficial compounds, including magnesium, iron, and antioxidants.

Milk chocolate is in the middle, less than dark chocolate, but more than white chocolate, because it contains a few cocoa solids.

Caffeine in Chocolate vs Coffee and Tea

The amount of caffeine in chocolate varies depending on several factors, and the same goes for the most common sources of this stimulant. But in general, chocolate is generally lower in caffeine than most other sources of caffeine like coffee and tea.

Pasquariello shares rough estimates of how much caffeine you can expect to find in popular caffeinated beverages:

“The level (of caffeine) in granola bars and other foods depends on the brand, type, and amount you consume,” Pasquariello says. “Most caffeinated granola bars have about 60 to 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving,” so you’ll likely feel refreshed if you eat them all at once.

You can narrow down the precise content of your favorite caffeinated beverage or food (including brand-name chocolates, snacks, and other sweets) with this detailed caffeine chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Can you eat chocolate if you can’t have caffeine?

Yes, you can probably still enjoy small amounts of chocolate if you don’t typically consume caffeine, unless you are Really are sensitive to it. This is because there is a relatively low amount of caffeine in chocolate per serving (especially milk and white chocolates) compared to more common sources like tea and chocolate.

“If you eat more than a few servings of dark chocolate, you may feel a little jittery, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine,” Pasquariello says. “But if you eat a square or two of milk chocolate or something low in cocoa, you’re very unlikely to feel any noticeable effects from the caffeine.”

Of course, every body is different, so it’s important to consider how your chocolate intake affects you. For example, if you regularly eat chocolate before bed but have trouble sleeping (and there’s nothing else to explain the problem), adjusting your portion size or bedtime may help. On the other hand, if you enjoy a chocolate treat every night and can still get a good night’s rest, you’re in a great position to enjoy your treats however you like.

Caffeine considerations aside, Pasquariello believes chocolate is a treat that can fit into any diet. “As someone who has a small treat or dessert after almost every meal, I truly believe that chocolate of any kind can fit into a healthy diet,” she says. (Can I get a Amen?)

The type of chocolate you reach for depends on your taste preferences, but she says she generally prefers darker chocolate for more flavor without adding as much sugar. “But ultimately, it’s also about not depriving yourself of the foods you love.” Especially when those foods can also help you live longer (like chocolate does).

Well+Good articles reference reliable, recent and solid scientific studies to support the information we share. You can trust us throughout your wellness journey.

  1. Martínez-Pinilla, Eva et al. “The relevance of theobromine for the beneficial effects of cocoa consumption.” Frontiers of Pharmacology vol. 6 30. 20 Feb. 2015, doi:10.3389/fphar.2015.00030

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *