You probably have heard that “chocolate causes headaches.” It is likely that we owe this to the doctors and their experience treating patients with headaches.
I experimented with this when I was younger. My mother took me to our primary care doctor because I was suffering daily headaches, and one of his dietary recommendations was to avoid certain types of foods for several weeks, to discover if something triggered them. Imagine my face when I saw that one of the foods that I had to avoid was dark CHOCOLATE! I had to stop eating chocolate for several weeks... thanks to the universe, it did not have anything to do with my headache.
Now, speaking more scientifically, I did some research about the connection between dark chocolate and headaches in PubMed, which is the United States National Library of Medicine. My biggest surprise was that there are very few articles on this subject.
If we consider any headaches, a study reports that “there isn’t any relation with the quantity of Phenethylamine* contained in dark chocolate and the headaches episodes.” Also, other study compared chocolate with carob, which, because of its similar taste with dark chocolate, is used as a substitute in the diets of those who cannot eat it. This study proved that the people who ate chocolate did not have more headaches than the individuals who did not eat it. Now, in regards to migraines (a particular type of headaches), I found conflicting information in two rigorous studies. The first one, in 1974, shows that the patients who ate chocolate did not have more migraines that the ones who didn’t. The second one, in 1991, indicates that approximately half of the patients that ate chocolate had migraines compared with none of the patients who received placebo (placebo means that they made these patients believe that they were eating chocolate when in fact they weren’t).
In conclusion, there exists little medical evidence that supports the recommendation of not eating dark chocolate to avoid headaches. Of course, each person is different, and before making a decision that could have an impact on your quality of life, it is worth considering to stop eating it for a few weeks to check if your symptoms decrease.
If you make the test, I hope that you are like me so you can keep enjoying good quality and healthy dark chocolate… some excellent ones here
Ramon E. Martínez
* Chemical compound in chocolate associated with headaches.
** Note: Before taking any recommendation that may affect your health, we suggest that you consult with your doctor in advance.
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Bean-to-bar: A term used to identify the artisan or craft method to prepare the chocolate. The chocolate maker acquires the cacao beans, as opposed to buying couverture, minimally process them in his or her facility and makes chocolate. It provides a more controlled environment for the chocolate-making