Can You Die From Eating Too Much Chocolate?

The exuberance with chocolate when making cakes and desserts earns the title of a "death by chocolate" creation, according to Collins Dictionary. Many of us will have made the mistake of indulging in excessive amounts of moreish chocolate, but would a death literally caused by eating too much chocolate really be possible? According to some experts, the answer is yes.

Many aspects of chocolate's potential to negatively impact health are probably well known. The biggest is weight gain through the consumption of calories and sugar, leading to problems including heart-related illnesses (vastly outweighing any reputed benefits of chocolate consumption, per The Washington Post). In terms of chocolate's specific ability to kill, though, analysis by Popular Science suggests it's all to do with a compound called theobromine.

Theobromine is a natural alkaloid found in certain plants, including cocoa beans, explains Popular Science. It has a bitter flavor, providing a mild stimulus similar to that of caffeine. The compound can also cause a drop in blood pressure, as well as an increased desire to urinate. But how might theobromine cause death?

Dark chocolate may be more dangerous than milk chocolate

The stimulus of large amounts of theobromine providing a fast heartbeat, combined with blood pressure alterations, would put the heart under immense stress, potentially triggering death, Popular Science warns. However, the report notes that reaching the stage of heart problems should be avoided by the warning sign of vomiting caused by a massive chocolate intake.

According to Wired, a lethal dose would be about 1,000 milligrams of theobromine per kilogram of a person's weight. Given that 100 grams of cocoa contains 1,500 milligrams of theobromine (and, in the U.S., milk chocolate only needs to be 10% cocoa), you'd have to eat a hefty amount of chocolate to induce toxicity.

Wired notes that dark chocolate contains relatively higher quantities of theobromine than milk chocolate, so switching could be an effective way of averting disaster. Dogs, however, have an even tougher time: The dangerous theobromine dose is approximately 300 milligrams per kilogram of weight, meaning dogs are far more susceptible to the risks of chocolate than humans. Still, too, dogs aren't the only animals that shouldn't eat chocolate, meaning it's best in moderation for humans and left stored so that your furry friends don't accidentally consume it.