Let’s discuss food allergies and whether or not chocolate could be a trigger.
Cocoa is the Main Ingredient
Before we jump into the most common allergies, we should start with cocoa since it’s the main ingredient in unsweetened cocoa products and high-quality chocolate. If you’re allergic to cocoa, you must avoid all chocolate, plain and simple.
Chocolate is made from cocoa, which is a seed found inside a fruit. Cocoa in its natural form, ground into powder, or made into 100% dark chocolate bars will not trigger the most common allergies. Cocoa is dairy free, gluten free, soy free and nut free.
A gluten allergy or sensitivity is a reaction to proteins present in grains, such as rye, barley, and wheat.
Cocoa is naturally gluten-free. Plus, high-quality dark chocolate that is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar is also gluten-free.
What you need to watch out for are commercial chocolates that include 10-15 additional ingredients, as well as chocolates snacks that mix in foods like pretzels, cookie crumbles, and crispies.
Most dark chocolate is dairy free. However one should carefully inspect the label to ensure that the chocolate does not contain any dairy ingredients to be safe, as it can still cause issues for those with sever milk allergies.
Just because a dark chocolate bar does not contain milk, does not mean it is allergy free. Many chocolate makers use shared equipment to produce both milk and dark chocolate bars, and often dark chocolate bars that are dairy free, may still contain traces of milk.If you have a truly severe milk allergy as opposed to lactose intolerance, or want to avoid non-vegan products, most chocolate should be avoided because of the shared equipment use.
Milk, white, and ruby chocolates all contain milk or milk powders, and must be avoided completely.If you have a dairy allergy or are vegan, and have a craving for milk chocolate, look for milk chocolates that are made with non-dairy milk alternatives like coconut, almond, and oat milk.
Cocoa flavanols in chocolate activate the production of nitric oxide in our bodies. Nitric oxide is crucial to blood vessel health and circulation. It keeps the lining of our arteries smooth and relaxes the muscle cells in the artery wall, thereby improving blood flow and ultimately lowering blood pressure. Overall, this strengthens the heart and brain that rely on healthy blood vessels.
Beyond this, nitric oxide and its effects on blood circulation is also known to help with erectile dysfunction, better performance when exercising, and relief for sore muscles.
Nut Free Chocolate
Cocoa is a seed found inside a fruit, so it will not set off a nut allergy.But, keep in mind that nuts are a common ingredient in chocolate snacks, and chocolate may be manufactured in a facility that handles nuts. Make sure to carefully read all warning labels.
Chocolates to Avoid If You Are Allergic to Eggs
Chocolate does not contain eggs.However, chocolates that use egg lecithin as an emulsifier may need to be avoided, as well as chocolates with a cream or fondant filling, like the popular Cadbury Creme Egg. Additionally, if there are marshmallows, fudge, icing and frosting, or chocolate sauce present in chocolate or chocolate snacks, this can cause a reaction for people with an egg allergy.