There are many rumors and assumptions when it comes to the foods that cause acid reflux symptoms. People believe some food products and beverages to be triggers for heartburn; thus, they should be avoided.
For example, plenty of experts claims that chocolate causes acid reflux. But is there actually scientific research behind it? Why does chocolate cause heartburn?
Why Does Chocolate Give Me Heartburn?
Unfortunately, chocolate may worsen your acid reflux symptoms and lead to heartburn because it contains certain substances such as cocoa, caffeine, and sugar that tend to aggravate your acid reflux symptoms and irritate both your stomach and esophagus. This leads to excess stomach acid production, which can then reflux up and cause heartburn.
Is chocolate acidic?
The average pH level of chocolate ranges between 5.56-6.52, with white chocolate having the lowest value. All types of chocolate have acid-forming properties, though.
So, people particularly susceptible to acid reflux and GERD symptoms should avoid overeating of it, especially the kinds with low amounts of cocoa.
Chocolate also contains high amounts of sugar, which is acidic and can lead to excess stomach acid production. Consuming a diet high in sugar is also linked to an increased risk of diabetes and weight gain, which can both worsen your acid reflux and GERD symptoms, especially if you’re already susceptible to these conditions.
As a result, choosing healthier chocolate alternatives, such as dark chocolate with at least 75% of cocoa, is your best choice.
How does chocolate cause heartburn?
Cocoa powder is acidic, and eating too much of it causes an increase in serotonin production. While it’s a good hormone, it can lead to heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms. Cocoa also makes your stomach and intestinal muscles relax, causing acid to rise up.
This can cause inflammation in your esophagus and, later on, heartburn. The worst type of chocolate seems to be white chocolate as it contains very little nature cocoa powder and more sugar, further worsening your acid reflux symptoms.
Caffeine and theobromine, which are substances found in coffee, also have negative effects on your acid reflux and GERD.
While very few studies have been conducted, caffeine seems to relax your esophageal muscles and increase esophageal pressure, leading to heartburn in some patients.
Theobromine has the same effect, so avoiding chocolate can help ease mild cases of acid reflux. On the other hand, if you’re acid reflux is especially severe, eliminating particular food from your diet hasn’t shown improvement.
Chocolate contains substances that increase how much acid your stomach produces and raises the esophageal pressure. This means that eating chocolate, as compared with other food products of the same volume and number of calories, is more likely to lead to persistent heartburn.
In those cases, doctors recommend abstaining from chocolate or consuming it very rarely and for special occasions.
Is chocolate healthy?
If you’re looking to reap any health benefits from chocolate, it’s best to choose dark chocolate, which is made with cocoa powder. This type of chocolate is very rich in several minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
All of this helps contribute to various bodily functions as well as keep you safe, so it’s important to consume enough of them every day.
Chocolate, especially the dark kind, is an excellent source of antioxidants. These substances help flush out harmful free radicals from your body, preventing oxidative stress and damage to your cells.
Antioxidants also help prevent inflammation and chronic conditions from developing. So, getting these essential substances from chocolate is a healthy and delicious way to stay healthy.
Some studies also show that eating dark chocolate – with at least 75% of cocoa – may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. This is because dark chocolate contains flavanols, which help your arteries relax.
It improves blood flow, reduces blood pressure, and even lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack. Most studies show minimal changes, while others are greater, so make sure to take that information with a great of salt and follow a healthy, balanced diet.
Eating chocolate has also been shown to protect your skin from sun damage. The bioactive plant compounds found in dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the skin, increase skin density, and contribute to good hydration.
As a result, adding some chocolate to your diet a couple of weeks or months before going on a beach vacation can reduce skin redness and prevent sunburn. But remember not to forget your regular skin routine, including sunscreen.
What type of chocolate is better for acid reflux?
All chocolate types seem to lead to heartburn and other acid reflux issues in people especially sensitive to such symptoms. But chocolates with more natural ingredients, including cocoa powder, seem to be better than types like white chocolate, which are loaded with artificial sweeteners and sugar.
On the other hand, dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that can help keep your digestive system healthy and prevent severe acid reflux symptoms.
It’s also important to remember that trigger foods are very individual. So, not everyone will experience heartburn and other acid reflux symptoms after eating chocolates.
That’s why studies are conflicted about dietary changes in the treatment of acid reflux, as it’s very hard to determine what helps and what makes things worse. As a result, make sure to listen to your body and consult your doctor if your symptoms are unmanageable.
In most cases, you can safely consume chocolate even if you experience acid reflux symptoms. Some people may need over-the-counter medications to control their symptoms, but eating chocolate shouldn’t make any difference in the severity of your symptoms. So, having some chocolate every once in a while shouldn’t be a problem.
Chocolate might be a heartburn trigger for some people, but it’s not the case for everyone else. This is because chocolate contains certain compounds, including caffeine and cocoa, that can aggravate your acid reflux symptoms.
For others, eating chocolate and chocolate-based products doesn’t seem to cause issues, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust your diet accordingly.
I’ve been interested in food for many years, and nutrition is my passion. From cooking healthy meals to educating myself on the health benefits of food products, there’s nothing that I don’t enjoy writing and learning about.