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Is there a healthy upper limit to how much unsweetened, processed cocoa powder should be eaten

by (20)
Updated about 1 hour ago
Created March 04, 2012 at 2:49 AM

I've been craving this like crazy lately, eating it plain by the spoonful, but sometimes stirred into water or with a banana in the blender. I've probably eaten 1.5 cups in two days. I'm in the process of trying to kill off my (suspected) sugar addiction (I get strong fruit cravings) and the cocoa also seems to help me with the cravings (it tastes sweet to me for some reason). It is partly 'normal' cocoa and partly 'Dutch'; not sure if that makes a difference. What is your opinion? Can this stuff do any harm? Anything I should be aware of before I continue to eat it?

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887 · August 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM

I find it interesting to see you here CHEESESLAVE. I was under the impression you were anti-paleo...hmmm.

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121 · July 06, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Yes, this is a little terrifying! I've been utterly exhausted for the past few weeks, and I've been using about a tbsp or two a day for months. Anyone else with an experience like this??

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90 · March 06, 2012 at 4:00 PM

That's my point. I personally don't feel that it is any different than drinking coffee. I've tried showing some people in the raw food movement (which I used to be involved in) the negative health info on it and you'd think I killed their mother by "attacking" their precious CRACKcao (cacao) ... I swear the stuff is seriously addictive. I think the biggest danger is that it takes time to poop out your adrenals so by the time you start having issues, you never suspect cacao (AKA cocoa, chocolate, etc) because it's supposed to be so healthy. If I want extra antioxidants now, I eat berries.

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318 · March 05, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Motu Your still craving the sweetness and substituting with another sweetener, be it better will not stop your cravings. When you. Ant get the cocoa youll be hunting around the cupboard for anything the satisfy your craving. Celine - Cacao is the uncooked from the raw bean. Cocoa is just cooked version, possibly with additives.

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109 · March 04, 2012 at 5:56 PM

I also used to have cravings for cocoa powder, they disappeared when I started supplementing with magnesium.

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4124 · March 04, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Motu, there are carbs in unsweetened cocoa, and carbs raise blood glucose levels.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038
4124 · March 04, 2012 at 5:20 PM

OV227, I can't drink coffee or eat chocolate. When I still ate chocolate, I noticed that chocolate kept me awake at night, if I ate it after lunch. I only drink tea or decaf coffee now.

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431 · March 04, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Mark, what is the difference between cacao nibs and unsweetened cocoa?

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431 · March 04, 2012 at 12:48 PM

How funny, I just ate like half a cup of unsweetened cocoa, and thought I was the only one that loved chocolate enough to do this!

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851 · March 04, 2012 at 8:41 AM

Sensible amounts of carbs with enough protein and fat won't ruin you. Intake of all the nutrients is a better prompter of satiety than one or two. At the moment, motu821 is getting 75g of carbs from the cocoa alone anyway.

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851 · March 04, 2012 at 8:38 AM

It's also high in copper, iron and manganese.

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18635 · March 04, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Upping the carps may be the worst advise available if your trying to kill of a sugar addiction. I'd put most these answers square on in the death by analysis category. Notice you weren't even asked about any other aspect of your diet and intake. COME ON!!!....Do some N=1. Cut the cocoa or don't for a few days at a time. How do you feel? For my self I feel like coffee and sugar makes me superhuman....till I go without it for about a week, then I feel like I've reached new levels of thinking and function previously unknown.

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20 · March 04, 2012 at 3:45 AM

But there isn't really any sugar in cocoa powder...the container says 0 grams per tablespoon. It seems to just so happen to help me not crave fruit so much.

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375 · March 04, 2012 at 3:31 AM

Ah this is alarming, Why is this different from drinking coffee though?

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1716 · March 04, 2012 at 3:14 AM

Good question, will be keen to see the comments below. Been drinking about 3tbsp of pure cocoa powder per day, dissolved in hot water, for a while now. Soooooo good!

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9 Answers

E043886254440ec20d47ed07d5a19c4a
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154 · March 04, 2012 at 3:52 AM

Could be a magnesium deficiency. Cocoa is rich in magnesium.

If you've cut out whole grains such as brown rice and oats and don't eat a lot of nuts, seeds or leafy greens, you may have magnesium deficiency.

Best way to supplement is transdermally either with magnesium chloride baths or spraying magnesium oil on the skin.

http://www.cheeseslave.com/are-you-suffering-from-magnesium-deficiency/

Cravings for fruit and sugar could also be a glucose deficiency. Up the carbs!

8f87879387f2a357db7c33008ff9a04a
887 · August 25, 2013 at 12:32 AM

I find it interesting to see you here CHEESESLAVE. I was under the impression you were anti-paleo...hmmm.

D3495cd9e3e7173f24e1dbee40774573
851 · March 04, 2012 at 8:38 AM

It's also high in copper, iron and manganese.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
18635 · March 04, 2012 at 4:30 AM

Upping the carps may be the worst advise available if your trying to kill of a sugar addiction. I'd put most these answers square on in the death by analysis category. Notice you weren't even asked about any other aspect of your diet and intake. COME ON!!!....Do some N=1. Cut the cocoa or don't for a few days at a time. How do you feel? For my self I feel like coffee and sugar makes me superhuman....till I go without it for about a week, then I feel like I've reached new levels of thinking and function previously unknown.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52
6
18635 · March 04, 2012 at 4:31 AM

Upping the carbs may be the worst advise available if your trying to kill of a sugar addiction. I'd put most these answers square on in the death by analysis category. Notice you weren't even asked about any other aspect of your diet and intake. COME ON!!!....Do some N=1. Cut the cocoa or don't for a few days at a time. How do you feel? For my self I feel like coffee and sugar makes me superhuman....till I go without it for about a week, then I feel like I've reached new levels of thinking and function previously unknown. ??? JayJay 0 secs ago

D3495cd9e3e7173f24e1dbee40774573
851 · March 04, 2012 at 8:41 AM

Sensible amounts of carbs with enough protein and fat won't ruin you. Intake of all the nutrients is a better prompter of satiety than one or two. At the moment, motu821 is getting 75g of carbs from the cocoa alone anyway.

F514c59692c45189d46cc01c34961153
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375 · March 04, 2012 at 3:29 AM

I've starting doing this too. I haven't seen any negative affects and I feel good after a hot cup of "cocoa" (I'm using Hershey's special unsweetened). I don't think it's dutch processed i'm not 100% sure and can't afford much better for now.

My roommate thinks I'm insane adding 2 tbs of the bitter powder to hot water and drinking it but its like my dessert every night.

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90 · March 04, 2012 at 3:29 AM

I torched my adrenals slowly over the course of a year or so using cocoa in my smoothies most days. It's contains caffeine and theobromine. I can't eat ANYTHING with cocoa in it any longer or I'm awake all night - super sensitive to it now.

46cca8ea7b1325c286c470182aef053b
121 · July 06, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Yes, this is a little terrifying! I've been utterly exhausted for the past few weeks, and I've been using about a tbsp or two a day for months. Anyone else with an experience like this??

353a32aa38fb5cab8f48a698b8b702ea
90 · March 06, 2012 at 4:00 PM

That's my point. I personally don't feel that it is any different than drinking coffee. I've tried showing some people in the raw food movement (which I used to be involved in) the negative health info on it and you'd think I killed their mother by "attacking" their precious CRACKcao (cacao) ... I swear the stuff is seriously addictive. I think the biggest danger is that it takes time to poop out your adrenals so by the time you start having issues, you never suspect cacao (AKA cocoa, chocolate, etc) because it's supposed to be so healthy. If I want extra antioxidants now, I eat berries.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038
4124 · March 04, 2012 at 5:20 PM

OV227, I can't drink coffee or eat chocolate. When I still ate chocolate, I noticed that chocolate kept me awake at night, if I ate it after lunch. I only drink tea or decaf coffee now.

F514c59692c45189d46cc01c34961153
375 · March 04, 2012 at 3:31 AM

Ah this is alarming, Why is this different from drinking coffee though?

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038
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4124 · March 04, 2012 at 12:34 PM

The "craving" could also be related to the alkaloids theobromine and theophylline, or other mood altering substances, such as phenylethaline, anandamide.

Here is an interesting paper from the Journal of Affective Disorders, "Mood State Effects of Chocolate":

http://www.chocolate.org/chocolate.pdf

The paper discusses the composition of chocolate, cravings, psychoactive properties of chocolate, neurotransmitter symptoms: dopamine, serotonin, opioids, among other things.

Rather than assume a state of addiction or presence of psychoactive chemicals, a simpler answer may be that the behaviour is either a compromise or a dysregulation of natural endogenous mechanisms. In essence, certain neurotransmitter systems are activated in dysfunctional ways by inappropriate analogues or by concentrations of the factors (including foods) which exceed the evolutionary capacity and override regulatory feedback mechanisms. Such foods do not have to be intrinsically addictive through any ???psychoactive??? prop- erties, but simply have the capacity to activate neuro- transmitters in a dysfunctional way. High concentrations of sugar and fat, by virtue of their ability to release dopamine and opioids, have the potential to compromise such endogenous mechanisms. Rather than view them (and chocolate specifically) as ???substances of abuse???, it might be more appropriate to consider them as abusers of endogenous mechanisms.

Here are two references for checking the carbohydrate and fat content of unsweetened cocoa powder:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5471/2

http://www.lowcarb.ca/low-carb-tools/carb_count_detail.html?item_id=19860

Also, this abstract of a chromotography test on amines in chocolate gives a bit more background to what chocolate contains.

An excerpt:

This study was undertaken to analyse and quantify four of the biogenic amines thought to occur in chocolate. Tyramine, tryptamine, 2-phenylethylamine and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine) were chosen as the amines of interest.

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318 · March 04, 2012 at 3:19 AM

You can't kill off a sugar craving by substitutions it with another sweetener, be it natural or artificial. 1.5 cups in 2days is an addiction in itself. If your snacking between meals, try nuts, cacao nibs or the sweeter veggies, like carrot.

F5dba6620bab247c3ebf5a4e8324b39d
318 · March 05, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Motu Your still craving the sweetness and substituting with another sweetener, be it better will not stop your cravings. When you. Ant get the cocoa youll be hunting around the cupboard for anything the satisfy your craving. Celine - Cacao is the uncooked from the raw bean. Cocoa is just cooked version, possibly with additives.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038
4124 · March 04, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Motu, there are carbs in unsweetened cocoa, and carbs raise blood glucose levels.

Bdc6244bdbd664d2168a8e326018ffbe
431 · March 04, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Mark, what is the difference between cacao nibs and unsweetened cocoa?

9d7c1e04bc7bb2488f8e69ddb3586a64
20 · March 04, 2012 at 3:45 AM

But there isn't really any sugar in cocoa powder...the container says 0 grams per tablespoon. It seems to just so happen to help me not crave fruit so much.

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1294 · March 04, 2012 at 2:58 AM

Cocoa powder does have carbs in it, maybe thats why your body is craving it? 1 tablespoon has 3 grams of carbs.

It also has minerals in it, you could try a basic mineral supplement and see if that takes it away, although I think getting minerals from food is better.

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0 · August 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM

Cocoa powder is not going to cause you to "torch you adrenals". After working in medical research for almost a decade I had to create an account to help dispel this myth. Modern research appears to show that adrenal fatigue is a myth. You can search the web for "myth adrenal fatigue" and find research proving this, including some on the Endocrine Society, which is a society of endocrinologists. Adrenal insufficiency is an actual disease, but is not to be confused with adrenal fatigue, and is not caused by this type of "burn out".

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0 · July 06, 2013 at 8:37 AM

I dont kno the answer to this but my alterative to drinking chocolate is:- 1 heaped tsp of herseys cocoa powdwer (unsweetened) with coconut milk, 1 tsp of date syrup and then just add hot water mmmm!

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