Chocolate: dark, gooey, delicious, decadent… and bad for eczema? Is this REALLY the truth?
Eczema is a skin disease that has been estimated to affect about 25% of people worldwide. Before The 30-day Flawless Program I suffered from this common affliction, and found out that this itchy, blistering skin irritation can be caused by a variety of things: but is most commonly linked to lifestyle and diet.
Which brings us to chocolate. Many people claim to have adverse side effects when eating chocolate, and tend to strictly avoid the stuff when suffering from eczema.
But does chocolate really affect eczema, or is this just a myth? Do we really need to give up the thing that makes most of us smile?
According to recent studies, an allergy to cacao (the bean in chocolate), is so rare that it is virtually nonexistent in recent medical literature! The pure cocoa bean does not contain any allergens, so it is most unlikely for people to develop any allergic reactions to it. Isn’t that sweet news?
But if this is true, then why all the fuss about how chocolate is bad for eczema and why do some people claim that their eczema is brought on by chocolate?
Well, there can be two issues.
Firstly, some people (but not in the majority), can have problems with high histamine levels.
Dark chocolate contains large amounts of histamine that can affect the skin of people who have intolerances to histamine. However, since histamine is not an allergy, but rather an intolerance, eating chocolate shouldn’t be a problem for most people–as long as they are watching their histamine levels. (Read more about histamine here.)
Secondly, (and more commonly) as mentioned above, eczema and other linked skin diseases are usually forms of your body’s intolerance to certain food products–products that can be found in processed or filled chocolates, and even some chocolates claiming to be “dark”.
How processed chocolates are causing your eczema
When cocoa is processed to make chocolate, there are lots of other ingredients and additives used other than pure cocoa.
These ingredients include milk, soy, sugars, seed oils, wheat, etc., and are coincidentally more commonly shown to irritate eczema and other skin diseases at a high level.
Chocolates containing high traces of these other food allergens are usually the real cause for a “chocolate allergy”, and are most likely what is causing you to have eczema breakouts or flare-ups.
Let’s take a look at some of the 3 main ingredients in chocolate that are some of the main causes for eczema.
Milk. An intolerance to milk is shown to be present in up to 60% of the world’s population. This intolerance usually results in a bad break out of eczema, causing swelling, oozing and itchiness in the infected areas or even previously healed ones. It may also give you other side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, bloating and gas. If you’ve ever experienced any of these side effects while eating that snickers bar, you can be sure it isn’t the cocoa bean that’s affecting you, but rather the dairy that’s contained.
Sugar. High amounts of sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, can directly irritate your eczema. Sugar promotes the growth of bacteria, yeast and other toxins in our body, that can cause the body to have high inflammation levels. When your body’s inflammation levels increase, this can shut down or hinder your immune system from working to heal your eczema, immediately causing your eczema to suffer and flare.
Wheat. Filled chocolates often use flour of wheat starch as a binder, making it a very common ingredient in most chocolate bars and products. Chocolates or any other products containing wheat or gluten are shown to have a direct correlation with eczema, especially if you have a wheat intolerance. Wheat also attacks the body’s immune system, and can irritate your eczema or cause breakouts. Other side effects of wheat include grogginess, a hard feeling in your stomach (stomach pain), migraines, an inability to concentrate, and outbreaks in the form of rashes or hives.
These 3 ingredients are only some of the most commonly found main ingredients in chocolate, but other allergens such as soy, seed oils, nuts, and other additives can also be harmful for your eczema.
Dark chocolate in itself is shown to be fine and not have any side effects. If you’re eating chocolate without eczema triggers, then you’ll probably be fine having chocolate!
Unless you have a histamine intolerance or have high histamine levels, an “allergy” to chocolate is quite unlikely and more often caused by other ingredients that are mixed in with the cocoa bean.
If you experience eczema symptoms such as blisters that ooze and crust, skin color changes, thickened areas of the skin, and extreme itching after ingesting chocolate, you should probably look into the other ingredients first, before throwing out all the good stuff!
Download healthy chocolate recipes!
Click below to download my free recipe book, if you want to have chocolate treats and still keep your skin eczema free! All recipes are dairy and gluten free, low in sugar, with egg-free options!
• Lastly, remember to check the labels closely, to make sure that there aren’t any eczema triggers lurking about. Some chocolates that advertise as “dark chocolate” aren’t even close to being dark at all! Make sure you read your ingredients closely.
What do you think about eating chocolate when you have eczema?
PS: Don't know where to start? Sign up to my free series The Clear Skin Plan !