Its hard to find someone who doesn’t like chocolate, but to understand what causes chocolate allergy symptoms we need to understand where chocolate comes from and how early pure unsweetened chocolate has evolved into what is today called chocolate.
Where is Chocolate From?
Chocolate comes from the cacao tree and is made from its seeds. The Cacao tree is native to Central America where chocolate has been consumed for thousands of years. Almost all early Central American cultures consumed chocolate either as a drink or in its pure unsweetened form. Chocolate was even used by some of these cultures like the Aztecs as a currency. The use of chocolate spread through Europe after the Spanish defeated the Aztecs. Unlike early chocolate consumption which was unsweetened, sugar was added to create sweetened chocolate. Of course other ingredients slowly made their way into chocolate to add to taste and texture. Many so called chocolate allergy symptoms can be attributed to these added ingredients and the processing of modern chocolate.
The worst thing that someone with a sweet tooth can get is a chocolate allergy. Most of the allergies and intolerances are caused by ingredients as mentioned, allergies to cacao do occur but they are somewhat rare. The ingredients in chocolate are among the leading allergy causing foods and include milk, peanuts, other nuts, wheat, corn, berries, egg and soy. Another problem is that much of the chocolate that is consumed is eaten by children and they are more susceptible to many food allergies and intolerances
Peanut allergies are a serious problem with chocolate and chocolate that does not contain peanuts will often be labeled as containing possible traces of peanuts. This is because though this chocolate may not directly contain nuts it may be made with equipment that was previously used with peanuts and even though the equipment has been cleaned it can still contain trace amounts of peanuts. Even if chocolate is made with equipment that is peanut free if peanuts are used else where in the building cross contamination can occur. Many large chocolate companies now go to great lengths to make sure their chocolate that is labeled peanut free contains no trace amounts. Chocolate companies have recognized that there is a large peanut free chocolate market.
Chocolate Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms from a chocolate allergy or chocolate ingredients related allergy can occur in minutes or hours after consumption. They may include rashes, hives, headaches, respiratory problems, and other immune related responses. Chocolate intolerance caused from ingredients are usually more intestinal like stomach aches and diarrhea.
Chocolate Allergy Prevention
The first step to avoiding a chocolate allergy is finding out which ingredient is causing your chocolate allergy symptoms, or if cacao is responsible. Your doctor will be able to diagnose this from a challenge test or some other form of allergy testing. After your chocolate allergy is more accurately diagnosed as long as cacao in not at fault you may not have to avoid chocolate all together but instead can try buying chocolate without the ingredient that is responsible for your symptoms. If dairy is causing your problem, dairy free chocolate is available. Just about any type of chocolate can be found at health and specialty stores including wheat free, gluten free, egg free, soy free, and peanut free. If you want to avoid symptoms reading labels is very important and do not be afraid to ask questions most staff at health food stores are very familiar with allergy products. Lastly when buying any chocolate it may be worth spending a little more on quality as cheaper chocolate often contains more impurities.