Is it possible to have a chocolate allergy? (Symptoms, Potential Causes)

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Is it possible to be allergic to chocolate? It’s not often that I’m asked about the likelihood of a chocolate allergy, but it’s come up often enough that I felt compelled to write about it. Those who claim to be allergic to chocolate or to have a chocolate sensitivity are really allergic to a non-cacao component of chocolate.

Yet, there are also additional, more complicated reasons why you can be allergic to chocolate. These possibilities have everything to do with cacao, so keep reading to find out why.

What Exactly Is a Chocolate Allergy?

A chocolate allergy, like any other food allergy (defined as a systemic immune reaction to a foreign substance), is your body’s immunological response to one or more components in a chocolate product. The problem arises when we attempt to define chocolate. Depending on where you are in the globe, the chocolate you are thinking of may be a chocolate-flavored candy bar, a two-ingredient dark chocolate bar, a brownie, or a piece of cake.

If you have an allergic response to chocolate or anything else, whether minor or severe, it is critical that you list every component in anything you are consuming. If it’s a packaged item, look for the nutrition statistics, or ask the chef if it’s anything from a restaurant. The most basic chocolate available is composed of 100% cacao, and a real allergy to cocoa is quite unusual; your reaction is more likely to anything other than the cacao in your chocolate.

Certain autoimmune disorders, on the other hand, may lead your body to perceive chocolate and other cacao-containing foods as invaders, comparable to a chocolate allergy but without the blood-level immunomarkers (called Immunoglobulin E, or IgE). Due to the absence of IgE present throughout the response, this is classified as a chocolate sensitivity; nonetheless, we will discuss this more below. The issue is, how can you tell whether you have a chocolate allergy or sensitivity without having blood tests done?

Signs of Chocolate Allergy and When to Seek Help

Chocolate allergy or allergy-like responses have the same symptoms as any other food allergy. Food allergies, according to the Mayo Clinic, cause the following symptoms:

  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Coughing, wheezing, or itchy throat
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
  • Hives
  • Stomach pain
  • Anaphylaxis (a very severe, life-threatening medical emergency which can cause your body to go into shock)

When a chocolate sensitivity or allergy interferes with your everyday life, you should seek care as you would with any other dietary concern. Out of prudence, some individuals prefer to shun any chocolate. Yet, unless you have life-threatening signs of a chocolate allergy, I advise you to (carefully) try chocolates manufactured with different components to discover which ones you respond to.

To begin, try a pure chunk of cacao, also known as chocolate liquor or cacao mass, and see whether it gives you any difficulties. If it does, you may have a histamine intolerance (more on that below).

Sensitivity to Cocoa (Symptoms)

Several individuals all around the globe claim to have some form of chocolate sensitivity. Nevertheless, there are a few methods to detect whether you have a chocolate allergy vs a chocolate sensitivity, and it all begins with cacao (also known as cocoa). If you have a cocoa sensitivity, your symptoms may increase if you eat chocolates with higher cacao percentages and little to no extra ingredients, similar to how gluten intake may aggravate symptoms in those with celiac disease.

Food intolerance-based symptoms of cocoa sensitivity, according to the non-profit Cleveland Clinic, include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Gas, cramps or bloating
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Irritability or nervousness

Cross Reactivity & Associated Allergies

A real chocolate allergy will produce more severe symptoms than a sensitivity, including any or all of the following symptoms as well as measurable levels of IgE in the blood. Cross-reactivity is another possibility for your symptoms. This indicates you are responding to a chemical in chocolate that is physiologically similar to one found in something to which you are allergic. According to this research, ragweed, tobacco, and coffee all contain chemicals that are immunologically cross-reactive with cacao and may trigger an allergy-like reaction in those who are highly sensitive.

Several experts also advise consumers to avoid goods containing the cola nut and karaya gum, which are members of the same botanical family as cacao. If you are allergic to any of those ingredients, your body may be responding to cacao owing to simple, but unfortunate, molecular miscommunication. The most frequent cause of a suspected cacao allergy is cross-contamination with another food to which you are genuinely sensitive, producing milder symptoms than swallowing higher quantities of the allergen.

or caffeine in commercial chocolates are the most probable causes of any allergy-like symptoms, although insect parts might also be to blame (see below). If you feel you have a dark chocolate allergy, investigate if you also have any histamine sensitivity (see below). But, if you feel you have a milk chocolate or white chocolate allergy, you may really have a dairy or a particular milk replacement allergy. Sugar, milk, and other ingredients

Is it true that there are roaches in chocolate?

Regrettably, this is true. Several years ago, prominent media outlets covered the possibility of roaches in chocolate, along with a variety of other insects, for a brief period of time. Since 1985, the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) has permitted a specific quantity of insect parts to be lawfully placed within a chocolate. The order recognizes that cacao is an agricultural product, and as such, even with the most meticulous examination, a small insect may be left behind in a bag of beans.

The FDA defines permissible insect pieces as anything less than an average of 60 or more insect fragments per 100 grams, or more than 1 rodent hair per 100 grams of chocolate, regardless of the size of the hairs or hair fragments. Well. It’s comforting that roach content in chocolate is regulated, but it makes you worry what else may be in your beloved chocolate candy bar.

It’s also worth noting that even when a corporation is cited for violating FDA standards, action is performed only after the company has had time to reply and hopefully fix the mistake (unless action is deemed necessary to protect public health). Does Hershey’s chocolate include cockroaches? Probably, along with Cadbury and the other major companies. But, unless you have a molecular testing tool, you are unlikely to discover (or taste) any of them.

But, I’m not a fan of unintentionally eating bacteria-ridden insects, which might be the source of your chocolate allergy (if you suspect you have one). That is why I only purchase handmade chocolate, which is prepared in small amounts by local businesses that meticulously source and examine their cocoa. It’s logical that not every minor problem gets discovered when a behemoth like Hersheys processes hundreds of tons of chocolate & chocolate goods each week. That’s probably simply part of the cost of cheap chocolate.

Sensitivity to Histamine (Chocolate Intolerance)

If you currently purchase handmade chocolate but are still experiencing cocoa allergy symptoms, you may be suffering from Mast Cell Activation Disorder. MCAD, as it is known, is a histamine-producing mast cell overreaction to high histamine-containing stimuli (not just food). When you have an allergy, your immune system overreacts to the allergen by creating a kind of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).

These antibodies go to and interact with mast cells, which produce histamines and cause your body to respond allergically. For people with MCAD or just a histamine sensitivity or intolerance, this implies that chocolate might seem to produce an allergic response by activating histamine synthesis in mast cells in the absence of IgE. Histamine sensitivity may cause a wide range of symptoms, and contemporary research suggests that the majority of persons with histamine difficulties are weak in the histamine-degrading enzyme DAO.

Histamine intolerance symptoms include hives, mental fog, anxiety, stomach discomfort, IBS, rashes, and similar responses to other high histamine meals. To be honest, chocolate and histamines have a convoluted connection that deserves its own article. This article will teach you more about chocolate and histamine intolerance, as well as how you may be able to consume chocolate again without discomfort.

Chocolate Allergy Frequently Asked Questions

Is a chocolate allergy really a thing?

Absolutely! Most chocolate allergies, however, are caused by a non-cacao element in the chocolate or even bug bits that are often found in commercial chocolates. Sadly, unless you are directly allergic to cacao, which is extremely unheard of, a chocolate allergy test will not reveal anything.

What causes a chocolate allergy?

Chocolate allergy symptoms may be caused by a number of factors, including a real cacao allergy, cross-reactivity from a ragweed allergy, sensitivity to cocoa, milk, or soy, or even a syndrome known as Mast Cell Activation Disorder.

How common is chocolate allergy?

Genuine chocolate allergies are very uncommon, on the order of one in a million. But, if you suspect a chocolate allergy, see your doctor about a food allergy test and subsequently a cacao food sensitivity test.

Can you be allergic to just white chocolate?

If you are solely sensitive to white chocolate, you are very definitely allergic to a non-cacao component, such as milk or soy. This is due to the fact that cocoa butter, the cacao-derived component of white chocolate, has no antigens that aren’t likewise present in dark and milk chocolates.

Why do I get an upset stomach after eating chocolate?

If eating chocolate causes a stomachache, you may be suffering from histamine intolerance, a microbiota imbalance, or even cross-reactivity with a chemically identical molecule to which you are actually allergic, such as ragweed.

sensitivity. This content is given only for informational purposes. I strongly advise you to consult with your doctor or a competent medical practitioner to determine whether you have a chocolate allergy or intolerance.

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