Does Hot Chocolate Have Caffeine? How Does it Compare to Coffee?
Many of us can’t get through the day without a hit of caffeine but how much do you know about this powerful chemical? Perhaps, you have decided to cut down on your caffeine intake, but you don’t know which drinks you should avoid and whether you can still drink hot chocolate? Here we tell you all you need to know about hot chocolate and caffeine.
The Basics About Caffeine
Caffeine is a natural chemical that is found in many plants including coffee beans, cacao pods, and tea leaves. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) class it as both a drug and a food additive. You will get most of your caffeine intake from drinking coffee, soda, tea and from chocolate. However, the caffeine level in each of these beverages is very variable.
Coffee caffeine content is affected by the type of coffee bean, how the coffee is prepared and how long it is steeped. Soda pops and energy drinks introduce a lot of caffeine into the diet of children and teens. You can purchase caffeine as a drug in tablet form to reduce fatigue, make you more alert and give you a boost of energy.
When you swallow a drink that contains caffeine, it enters the stomach and intestines and then enters the bloodstream. From here, it reaches the nerves, brain, and spinal cord and causes you to feel alert. It helps you concentrate and focus. However, it also releases acid in the stomach so it can cause heartburn and indigestion. Most people start to feel the effects about quarter of an hour after they have had coffee or a soda; blood caffeine levels peak around an hour later. The effects are long lasting! Six hours after drinking that strong coffee, half of the caffeine content will still be circulating in your body and will not all be cleared for 10 hours.
Should You Be Worried About Your Caffeine Intake?
You have probably been told that too much caffeine is bad for you but how much is ‘too much’? Research has shown that the average adult caffeine daily intake in the US is 200 mg. This is delivered by two 5-ounce cups of coffee but would also be provided by four 12-oz. drinks of cola. Even decaf coffee contains 2 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces!
Of course, many people drink a lot more than this. Medical research indicates that most people will not have a problem consuming up to 400 mg of caffeine every day. However, some individuals are a lot more sensitive to its effects than others. Your ability to tolerate caffeine will depend on your weight, height, gender and individual metabolism. Some individuals find that just a small amount of caffeine leads to insomnia, gives them a rapid heart rate and makes them feel anxious and restless.
Most experts agree that consuming more than 600 mg of caffeine per day is not good for your health. This is between four and seven cups of coffee. Teens and young adults may be at particular risk. The symptoms of ingesting too much caffeine include headaches, dizziness, a shaky or nervous feeling, sleeping difficulties and an abnormal heartbeat. It can also cause high blood pressure and dehydration.
Do you feel that you are drinking more and more caffeine? It is possible for individuals to develop a tolerance to caffeine. Their body is so accustomed to consuming large amounts that they have to keep increasing the amount they ingest to feel any sort of effect. If this sounds like you or if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is probably time to start reducing your intake.
Reducing Your Caffeine Intake
This needs to be done gradually. Giving up all caffeine suddenly will lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, and flu-like symptoms. It is very unpleasant and can last for up to nine days.
Instead, gradually reduce your intake by reducing the amount of coffee, tea, and soda that you drink each day. Substitute soda and energy drinks with fruit juices and water. Regular coffee can be swapped for a decaf version over a period of three weeks.
What about other hot beverages? Is there caffeine in hot chocolate and should you give that up as well?
Hot Chocolate and Caffeine
So, does hot chocolate have caffeine? You may think that it is a caffeine-free drink as it is often consumed at bedtime, but it does actually contain caffeine. The exact amount varies between brands and with how you make the drink. A 16-ounce cup of coffee shop hot chocolate contains around 25 mg of caffeine. However, packets of hot chocolate cocoa mix that make up a six-ounce cup is more likely to contain just 5 mg.
Anything that contains chocolate will have some caffeine because it is contained in cocoa beans. There will inevitably be caffeine in hot cocoa but dark chocolate drinks will have more.
Caffeine in Hot Chocolate vs Coffee
Regular coffee (that has not been decaffeinated) will nearly always have more caffeine than hot chocolate. Even a strong hot chocolate will only contain 12 mg in an 8-ounce cup but a regular black coffee will have 95 mg in an 8-ounce cup so that’s a big difference. The weaker instant coffees will deliver at least 63 mg per 8-ounce cup as will lattes and mochas.
Hot chocolate also has less caffeine than tea. Of course, herbal tea has no caffeine at all. Regular tea will have more caffeine if more leaves are used or if it is brewed for longer. An 8-ounce cup of black tea would have around 25-48 mg of caffeine.
Hot chocolate also has less caffeine than many sodas. Popular cola drinks have between 50 and 70 mg of caffeine in a 20-ounce serving.
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The Bottom Line
Hot chocolate does contain caffeine but considerably less than coffee, tea, and many sodas. It can be a useful drink if you are trying to reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet.
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