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Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

Winthrop High School's Premier News Site Since 2019

The Viking Times

Chocolate or Coffee: Which is Better for Your Pick-Me-Up?

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Courtesy of: New York Post

When people feel tired, many of them reach for a cup of coffee. Others claim that they need a shot of espresso to wake them up and get them into the right frame of mind.  But is that true?  Or is there an alternate, like chocolate?  So, put down the coffee-filled Stanley cups and grab a chocolate bar.

But not just any chocolate bar will do (this automatically eliminates anything produced by Hershey’s or Mars, sorry…).  Studies have proven that dark chocolate, specifically chocolate high in cacao content, is better for your health.  From protecting yourself against Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes to lowering your blood pressure, chocolate has benefits.  But it all comes from cacao.  Cacao is a form of cocoa, but it is the unprocessed, raw form of the cocoa bean, with no added sugar.  A compound called theobromine is found in cacao, and when ingested, has the same effects as a stimulant.  Caffeine is a stimulant too, but theobromine doesn’t impact your nervous system as much as caffeine does.

How do caffeine and theobromine work?  What are their effects?

Think of caffeine as a concealer.  When you are tired, your brain releases adenosine, a molecule that makes you even sleepier.  When adenosine binds to other receptors in your body, your body will begin to calm down.  Caffeine’s molecular structure is very similar to that of adenosine, which allows caffeine to make adenosine undetectable.  The receptors in your brain can’t feel the adenosine because the receptors are filled with caffeine.  This causes adrenaline to be released, an increase in neuron activity, and a boost in alertness. Caffeine does indeed improve your mood and boost your energy, but too much of it (in my case, only half a cup of coffee) can lead to shakiness, restlessness, and anxiety.  The effects of caffeine tend to peak around 30 minutes and can last only 2.5 hours.  Caffeine is good in the spur-of-the-moment.

Theobromine blocks adenosine receptors completely, whereas caffeine binds to them.  This is why it takes so long for theobromine to take effect.  It takes about two to three hours to work after you eat it, but it lasts seven to 12 hours in your body.  According to the National Institutes of Health, theobromine is related to caffeine (there are small levels of caffeine in chocolate) but overall, theobromine is friendlier for you than the caffeine found in a cup of coffee.  In the long run, theobromine is the way to go if you are having a long day at work or if you have a mountain of assignments due for school.

Here are the chocolates I tried, 92%, 72%, and 60% (the unwrapped pieces of chocolate).

Wondering what high cacao content tastes like, I’ve tried 60%, 72%, and 92% cacao chocolate bars for you.  A high cacao content is often healthier with less sugar.  A little note, if you do want to try this yourself, Chocolate Trading Co. says that chocolate bars made with cocoa butter will be healthier than ones made with vegetable oil.  Another thing to note, chocolate bars with at least 80% cacao tend to be quite bitter and more effective.  I tried the 60% first.  It was very sweet, surprisingly.  It tasted like a bitter version of milk chocolate.  The 72% was a melt-in-your-mouth sensation, what you would taste as a dessert in a fine-dining establishment.  It was very smooth and silky.  The last chocolate, the 92%, was bitter.  Like the 72%, it was unexpectedly smooth.  The 92% would be better for baking, for it is an acquired taste when eaten plain.  Out of all of these, I liked the 72% cacao the best.  Its flavor was heavenly.  But, I would eat the 92% in a heartbeat if I needed a pick-me-up.

If I’m being honest, I’m happy that there is an alternative to coffee as an energy boost.  Tea is a good alternative to coffee too, but why have tea when you can have chocolate?  I don’t know how many people would give up coffee for chocolate, but I certainly would.

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  • M

    Mark W DixonFeb 16, 2024 at 1:47 pm

    VERY well-researched! Food (and drink) for thought…

    Reply
  • C

    Chele BernerFeb 9, 2024 at 2:38 pm

    This article is right up my alley!!! You know I love my coffee AND chocolate. I will agree with you, I will always choose chocolate over coffee. And I will definitely give the 72% a try!

    Reply