Chocolate covered espresso beans are a popular candy treat that combines rich chocolate with a caffeine kick from espresso beans. While they may be delicious, some people wonder if it’s possible to eat too many chocolate espresso beans and if doing so can be unhealthy. This article will explore whether overindulging in chocolate espresso beans can cause any harmful side effects.
What are Chocolate Espresso Beans?
Chocolate covered espresso beans start with roasted coffee beans which are then coated in chocolate. The chocolate coating is usually dark chocolate or milk chocolate. The combination provides a crunchy, chocolatey exterior with an intense espresso flavor inside.
Chocolate covered espresso beans contain caffeine from the coffee bean center as well as cocoa solids, sugar, cocoa butter and milk ingredients from the chocolate coating. A 1 ounce serving contains approximately 25-45 mg of caffeine depending on the bean size. In comparison, a typical 1 ounce shot of espresso contains around 63 mg of caffeine.
Benefits of Cocoa and Coffee
Cocoa and coffee, the main ingredients in chocolate covered espresso beans, have some associated health benefits when consumed in moderation.
Cocoa contains flavonoids which are antioxidants that help protect cells from damage and lower inflammation. Dark chocolate with higher cocoa content provides the most dietary antioxidants. Cocoa also stimulates the production of endorphins which help elevate mood.
Coffee provides antioxidants, including polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids. Research indicates coffee consumption may lower the risk of liver disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and certain cancers. Coffee also enhances alertness due to its caffeine content.
However, chocolate espresso beans are considered candy rather than health food. The calories, fat, sugar and carbs mainly come from the chocolate coating, while the coffee bean center provides a concentrated source of caffeine.
Potential Downsides of Overconsumption
While chocolate espresso beans are perfectly fine to enjoy in moderation, eating too many may cause some adverse health effects. Potential downsides of overindulging include:
– Weight gain – Chocolate espresso beans are calorie dense, with 150-200 calories per ounce. Too many can lead to excess calorie intake and weight gain over time.
– Blood sugar spikes – The high concentration of sugar and calories can spike blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes or insulin resistance this can be problematic.
– Interrupted sleep – The caffeine in chocolate covered espresso beans can make it difficult to fall asleep if consumed late in the day. Caffeine also reduces total sleep time for some people.
– Anxiety or jitters – Excess caffeine intake from espresso beans may lead to feeling jittery, anxious or restless, especially in caffeine-sensitive individuals. Rapid heartbeat is also possible.
– Gastrointestinal distress – Too many chocolate espresso beans may cause stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea due to the caffeine, fat or sugar content.
– Nutritional imbalance – Overdoing chocolate espresso beans may displace healthier whole foods from the diet. This can lead to vitamin, mineral and fiber deficiencies over time.
– Effects on children – Caffeine has more pronounced effects in children compared to adults. Kids should consume chocolate covered espresso beans in moderation to avoid hyperactivity and sleep disruption.
Recommended Serving Sizes
To avoid potential downsides of overconsumption, chocolate espresso beans should be eaten in reasonable serving sizes. Here are some standard recommended serving sizes from health organizations:
– The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons or 38 grams for men. One serving of chocolate espresso beans may provide around 5-8 grams of added sugar, so no more than 3-5 servings should be consumed to stay under the limits.
– For caffeine, Health Canada recommends no more than 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight. For a 150 pound person that equals around 180 mg caffeine per day or roughly 4-7 servings of chocolate covered espresso beans.
– The standard serving size of chocolate espresso beans to limit calories is around 1 ounce or 150 calories per serving. The recommended treat size is not more than 200 calories per day from candy or sweets.
– Children ages 4-6 should limit caffeine to 45 mg per day from all sources. Older children can have up to 85 mg per day. Chocolate espresso beans should be limited to around 2 beans for younger kids.
Tips for Moderation
Here are some tips to keep chocolate espresso bean consumption in check:
– Read nutrition labels and be aware of serving sizes, calories, caffeine amount and sugar content.
– Measure out a single serving instead of eating from a full package. Don’t bring the entire bag with you.
– Avoid late night consumption within 6 hours of bedtime.
– Drink water to offset the dehydrating effects of caffeine.
– Consume beans alongside a protein source to balance out the sugar.
– Watch for signs you may be overdoing it like headaches, anxiousness or an upset stomach.
– Be extra cautious about overconsumption if pregnant, sensitive to caffeine or have a health condition affected by sugar or caffeine.
– Keep beans safely out of reach from pets and young children.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy
To keep chocolate espresso beans fun and healthy, try these tips:
– Use them as an occasional treat or dessert rather than an everyday snack.
– Pair a small serving with fresh fruit to add nutrients.
– Enjoy them after eating a healthy meal to prevent blood sugar spikes.
– Use just a few as a crunchy topping on yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream for flavor.
– Mix a handful into a smoothie for an energizing, high protein breakfast.
– Choose dark chocolate varieties and watch sugar content.
– Opt for milk chocolate beans as a calcium source if not consuming dairy.
– Save them for an alertness boost before exercising versus close to bedtime.
Signs You’re Eating Too Many
Be aware of the following signs that you may be overdoing your chocolate espresso bean intake:
– You frequently consume more than the recommended 1 ounce serving size per day.
– You experience caffeine jitters, rapid heartbeat or anxiety after eating them.
– They are replacing healthier snacks and meals in your diet on a regular basis.
– You have trouble falling asleep at night after consuming them late in the day.
– You frequently get stomach pains, nausea or diarrhea after eating beans.
– You nearly always feel like you want or crave more after having a serving.
– Your blood sugar feels out of whack or you experience energy crashes and spikes.
– You hide evidence or stash bags away due to excessive consumption.
– Friends or family have commented on your chocolate espresso bean eating habits.
If you recognize any of these signs, it may be best to cut back on chocolate covered espresso beans for better health. Focus on moderation and talk to your doctor if concerned.
Healthier Snack Swaps
To satisfy a sweet and crunchy craving in a healthier way, try these snack ideas instead of chocolate espresso beans:
– Fresh fruit like berries, apple slices, pineapple chunks or banana chips
– Unsalted nuts or seeds like almonds, walnuts, cashews or pumpkin seeds
– Greek yogurt with fresh fruit mixed in
– Vegetables like bell pepper strips, carrots and celery with hummus
– Whole grain crackers with natural peanut butter
– Cottage cheese and avocado toast
– Air popped or low fat popcorn
– Trail mix made with whole grains, nuts and dried fruit
– Roasted chickpeas or edamame lightly seasoned
– Protein bars with less than 10g added sugar
– Baked kale or zucchini chips
– Rice cakes topped with natural nut butter
Health Effects Summary
In summary, while chocolate espresso beans can be enjoyed occasionally, frequent overconsumption can lead to unhealthy weight gain, blood sugar spikes, sleep issues, jitteriness, upset stomach and nutritional imbalance. Sticking to recommended serving sizes of 1 ounce, limiting total daily calories from sweets and being aware of caffeine content is important. Focusing on moderation and substituting in healthier snacks when possible is key to keeping your chocolate espresso bean habit from becoming detrimental to your health.
Chocolate covered espresso beans are a delicious treat that provides a tasty combination of chocolate and caffeine. However, for optimal health it’s best to enjoy them in moderation while paying attention to serving sizes and signs of overconsumption. Limiting daily intake to 1 ounce, being mindful of caffeine and sugar content, and substituting healthier snacks can help keep your chocolate espresso bean habit from going overboard. With some restraint and balance, chocolate espresso beans can be part of an overall balanced and healthy diet.