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Health Risks of Dark Chocolate

by
author image Jenna Cee
Jenna Cee has been writing professionally since 2006. Her articles appear on 2Athletes.com and Women's Fitness Online. She is a personal trainer certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and as a fitness and sports nutritionist through the International Sports Sciences Association. Cee holds a Master of Science in human nutrition from Washington State University.
Health Risks of Dark Chocolate
A pile of dark chocolate on the table. Photo Credit gregsawyer/iStock/Getty Images

Dark chocolate has 60 percent or more cocoa than milk chocolate. According to Clemson University, dark chocolate can provide health benefits that other types of chocolate cannot. Dark chocolate may help to lower your blood pressure if you have hypertension, increase your HDL "good" cholesterol, decrease your LDL "bad" cholesterol and improve your mood and sense of well-being by increasing your serotonin and endorphin levels. Although this may make you want to run out and buy a dark chocolate candy bar, dark chocolate has some health risks that you should be aware of.

Side Effects from Caffeine

According to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, dark chocolate has higher caffeine content than both milk chocolate and white chocolate. Consuming large amounts of dark chocolate can lead to an increased heart rate, diarrhea, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and dehydration. Caffeine can also cause an increase in blood pressure and difficulty in focus or concentration. Caffeine can cause insomnia so you should avoid eating dark chocolate before you go to sleep. If you are sensitive to caffeine or if you suffer from high blood pressure, you should avoid consuming large amounts of dark chocolate.

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Kidney Stones

Dark chocolate may increase your changes of having kidney stones. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dark chocolate has oxalates in it. This can cause an increase in urinary oxalate excretion, which can increase your risk of forming kidney stones. If you are predisposed to kidney stone formation or if you have had a kidney stone in the past, then it is important for you to avoid oxalate consumption in its various forms, including dark chocolate.

Migraine Headaches

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center and Clemson University, dark chocolate may trigger the symptoms of a migraine. Dark chocolate contains a natural chemical called tyramine. Tyramine is thought to possibly trigger the migraine headaches, but further studies are needed to understand this relationship better. Dark chocolate is also high in sugar and can significantly raise your blood sugar levels. According to Harvard University, high blood sugar or hyperglycemia can trigger migraine headaches, as well. If you suffer from migraine headaches, dark chocolate may be a food that you should avoid.

Dark Chocolate is High in Sugar

Dark chocolate has a significant amount of saturated fat and sugar. According to Clemson University, a single ounce of dark chocolate is 150 calories, with the majority of calories coming from fat and sugar. Excess fat and sugar consumption can add inches to your waistline and increase your risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Clemson notes, however, dark chocolate is much more healthful than white chocolate or milk chocolate. Although dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants, it is only recommended in moderation because it is such a calorie-dense food.

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