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

by (20) Updated August 25, 2013 at 12:03 AM 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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9 Replies

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.


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

18437 · 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

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.

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.

3962 · 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":


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:



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.

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.

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.

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".

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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