The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook

200 Gourmet and Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family

allergy cookbook

Monday, January 16, 2006

In response to an earlier question about chocolate allergies, MaryKay Hill from The Vermont Food Allergy Organization sent me the following article by Judy Tidwell. I found the article of interest and thought others might as well.

A True Chocolate or Cocoa Allergy Is Rare
A true chocolate or cocoa allergy is rare even though many people claim to be allergic to it.

A study revealed that only one out of every 500 people who thought they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive. Because people complain of headaches and migraines after eating chocolate, they assume it is an allergic reaction. These reactions may be due to a food intolerance or sensitivity not an actual food allergy.

It is also possible that adverse reactions could be caused by ingredients added to chocolate during processing, such as corn syrup, milk, soy beans, lecithin, gluten, and nuts.

Chemical Makeup
There are approximately 380 known chemicals in chocolate. The pleasurable and unpleasurable effects of consuming chocolate can be attributed to several known chemicals:

* Caffeine
* Theobromine
* Phenyethylamine

Possible Reactions
Scientists have discovered over the last few decades that chocolate may cause headaches, obesity, heartburn, rectal itching, coronary problems, and emotional problems such as feelings of anger, irritability, confusion, and depression.

Caffeine, a stimulate, can cause anxiety, sleep problems, heartburn, restlessness, and difficulty with concentration.
Headaches and fatigue are usual signs of withdrawal from caffeine. Although there is much less caffeine in chocolate than in a cup of coffee, small amounts can add up.

Theobromine occurs naturally in cacao beans and stimulates the nervous system and heart rate. It may affect emotional moods as a natural antidepressant. It is also a mild diuretic.

Phenyethylamine affects mood swings by causing an initial emotional high then a short time later an emotional low. It causes blood pressure and blood-sugar levels to rise, resulting in a feeling of alertness and contentment.

Health Benefits
In moderation, eating chocolate can have health benefits. It may reduce the chance of heart disease and increase longevity.


  • At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said…

    Thanks for the information. I was beginning to think I had a chocolate allergy but will definitely give it some second thoughts.

  • At 1:07 PM, Blogger kate said…

    thanks for posting this. it was very helpful.

    i feel as though i always have strange questions: i no longer have a dairy allergy, thankfully i grew out of that, but i still have problems with soft serve ice cream. i've heard that there is an acid in that form of ice cream, as well as in custard. i was just wondering if there had been any studies or other theories on why a person's body would react against soft serve ice cream in particular.

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