November 21, 2019

Can chocolate cause heartburn?

Can Chocolate Cause Heartburn? | Dr. Chockenstein

Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food. It’s sweet, decadent, rich, and oh so tasty. There’s no wonder why Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year. We consume chocolate in all its glorious forms from chocolate chip cookies, candy bars, gourmet goodies, and heavenly chocolate desserts. However, in recent years, there have been rumors stirring around the interweb that chocolate can actually cause heartburn? Heartburn affects more than 60 million Americans each month. That’s a lot of painful burning caused by stomach acid escaping into the esophagus. Have you noticed a flare in acid reflux after consuming chocolate?

The link between chocolate and heartburn 

If you have ever told your physician you’re suffering from heartburn, most likely, you were given a long list of foods to avoid. Usually, on the top of the list are spicy foods, mint, anything with caffeine, tomatoes, and citrus fruits. Where does chocolate fall into the list? High-fat foods, like chocolate, can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which can cause stomach acid to escape into the esophagus. Fat also promotes the release of CCK, a hormone that may also relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which is the leading cause of heartburn. This leaves many wondering if chocolate is their leading cause of heartburn? While it may not be the prominent cause, studies do show there is a link between chocolate and heartburn. 

If I have heartburn, can I still eat chocolate?

Chocolate lovers, rejoice! There is no need to give up your favorite treat altogether. The key here is knowing which type of chocolate is best for you. Not all chocolate is created equally. If you’re looking to help reduce heartburn symptoms forgo the ooey gooey caramel and cream-covered chocolates and opt for a bar of solid dark chocolate. In most cases, the sweeter the chocolate, the more likely you will suffer from a bad case of heartburn. While dark chocolate can also be a trigger, it usually won’t trigger reflux as quickly or as severely as milk or white chocolate. Plus, dark chocolate is much better for you than milk or white, which is a nice bonus. 

When is the best time to eat chocolate if I suffer from heartburn?

First, try keeping the quantity of chocolate to a minimum, a tip we can all abide by regardless of acid reflux or not. Another way to satisfy your daily chocolate craving is by eating it alongside with non-reflux-triggering foods. Try eating something after chocolate to help ease any acid that’s trying to creep up. Stick to low acid foods like bananas or melon, or suck on a piece of ginger candy to help reduce reflux. 

Like many other conditions, heartburn is unique to you. A bit of chocolate that may trigger you may have no adverse effects on another person with heartburn or acid reflux. The key is figuring out how to keep your favorite sweet treat in your life without it wreaking havoc on your stomach.  

Now that you know a little more about chocolate and heartburn you might be interested in reading Is Chocolate Bad for Your Heart?

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