Good news about chocolate

Let’s face it — women LOVE chocolate! Research shows that chocolate affects levels of brain chemicals, like serotonin, which is probably why we love it so much.

Unfortunately, since we’ve been teens we’ve been hearing all about bad things that happen when you eat chocolate. We were told we’d get pimples, migraines, and fat. Chocolate was always a big no-no.

A number of years ago, my colleagues and I conducted a research study investigating the effects of chocolate on migraine. Participants in the study came to our clinic and received a large, 60 gram bar of chocolate or a similarly flavored carob bar. Headache activity and dietary intake was monitored for 24 hours after consumption. Interestingly, chocolate wasn’t a migraine trigger — even in people who had been convinced before the study that chocolate consistently triggered bad headaches. Eating chocolate with other potential trigger foods also didn’t make a difference. The real test was when we heard from folks after the study who had been certain chocolate was a trigger. After completing our study without headaches, several opted to add their beloved chocolate back into their diets without an increase in headaches. We concluded that people may be eating chocolate in response to other migraine triggers, like skipping meals, stress, and menses, and then falsely blaming the chocolate for triggering a headache. Chocolate eating can also be a response to cravings that often occur at the first stages of a migraine that has already started. While chocolate may indeed be a trigger for some people, it’s probably not a common trigger as had been previously believed.


Now there’s more good news about chocolate — a new study from the British Medical Journal reported that eating chocolate is good for your heart! After reviewing studies that included over 114,000 people, the researchers discovered that people eating more chocolate were less likely to develop heart disease:

  • Risk of heart disease was reduced by 37% among people eating a lot of chocolate
  • Risk of stroke was reduced by 29% in the heavy chocolate eaters

The researchers concluded that eating chocolate resulted in a “substantial reduction” in heart disease risk.

So let’s not give chocolate an undeservedly bad rap. While you do need to monitor your calories, you shouldn’t necessarily replace your chocolate treats with a different snack. And as you’re savoring that first bite as the smooth chocolate melts in your mouth — enjoy. Doctors now believe chocolate’s good for your heart.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (33)
  • lutelian
    2 months ago

    I have my migraine supplies in a bag and with me 24/7.

  • tinkyra
    7 months ago

    Lets’s face it, this article should be approached with caution. The studies show chocolate DOES cause migraine in some but not all migraine sufferers. I’ve endured 40 years of migraines, have taken part in research studies, and gone on repeated elimination diets. I’ve also read the findings of three studies on the subject, who all came to slightly different conclusions. For me, chocloate was nice on occasion, but I never craved it and preferred other types of sweets. I last ate chocolate out of politeness way back in 1998. A friend baked me a chocolate cake and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. BIG mistake. I had the worst migraine of my life, vomiting, visual distubances, disorientation. There had been no other trigger for at least a week. Conclusion? Chocolate is most definitely a trigger for me and I won’t be going near it anytime soon.

  • Marky
    10 months ago

    Been havng Migraine headaches with aura for about 8 years now.
    My trigger is definitely chocolate.
    I had been migraine free for a year or so havening eliminated chocolate from my diet.
    But, last Thursday I fancied a bounty bar (chocolate covered coconut bar).
    How silly this fancy was.
    The Saturday after consuming the little chocolate bar I got the familiar aura then the pain and the nausea kicked in.
    Its now Monday and Im just about recovering. It was a real bad migraine with sunday spent on the sofa. I had some paramax handy but it didn’t really do much to make me feel any better.
    With me I have discovered that the effects of eating chocolate (migraine) kick in 2 to 3 days after eating it.
    I realise now that I must never eat chocolate again.

  • Cassie
    4 years ago

    Okay, here’s the deal. Food triggers can take up to THREE DAYS to take effect in the body. That is why while doing an ELIMINATION DIET you do ONE FOOD for an entire week. You won’t know in most cases in one day. Most of my food headaches happen immediately, but the nasty ones that are hard to pin point unless doing an ELIMINATION DIET are the ones that hit a day or more AFTER imbibing in the “taboo” food. This study does NOT stand up to those regulations. I wonder how many of those people got headaches a few days later and thought it was stress? This study alone makes me really wonder at the value of this website.

  • David Good
    7 years ago

    I’ll give this a try. It has always seemed like chocolate was a trigger but I know that sometimes what we believe to be true and what can be proved are two different things. It’s possible that the belief that chocolate will trigger a migraine can cause it to trigger a migraine.

  • Teri Robert
    7 years ago

    Karma Avro Caffeine is a paradox. It can trigger a Migraine, but when we have a Migraine it can help because it makes medications work better and faster. Go figure!

  • Karma Avro
    7 years ago

    but some migraine meds have caffeine which can help migraines. and chocolate has caffiene, so i wonder about that.

  • Lulu Calva de Ortiz
    7 years ago

    WOW
    More chocolate for me.

  • Dorothy Klein
    7 years ago

    This is very informative piece of writing. Helpful to know the truth about chocolates. You might as well take a glance at http://www.chocolarious.com for more truths about chocolates. You can also include http://www.gourmandia.fr to learn new recipes that are easy yet so much delightful.

  • Jaye Lander
    7 years ago

    Would that were true for me.:-)
    I eat 1 bite of the best 90% Supreme Dark Lindt Excellence & I soon feel the result in my head.

  • Janene Zielinski
    7 years ago

    Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts…. just like any other foods for me.

  • Bob Bryant
    7 years ago

    For Good Healthy Chocolate try dark, Belgian Xocai Healthy Chocolate! It is all natural with No processed sugar, No caffeine, No artificial ingredients (colors or flavors). Includes Acai berry and blueberry AND is cold-pressed (not roasted or cooked). Good for cholesterol, blood pressure, skin, overall body inflammation. Oh, I forgot, it is Delicious! http://www.mxi.myvoffice.com/kathybryant/.

  • Eugenia Jones
    7 years ago

    Too much chocolate is a trigger for me. Especially if I eat it, then lay down & go to sleep. I think that’s the worse trigger. But if I drink water right after eating the chocolate, I MIGHT be on safe plate. But I love chocolate.

  • Kirsten Elin
    7 years ago

    I’ve always found it was NOT a trigger for me, and a few years ago I gave it up for a few months and NO DIFFERENCE in frequency etc but it’s amazing how many people try and tell me it’s the problem… and just won’t believe otherwise. Just like they insist the cause of my migraines is stress, or not enough water, etc etc. People often love to tell you what causes your headaches.

  • Diana McCalla
    7 years ago

    It is not the cacao powder that is the culprit, it all of the additives, preservatives and junk that is added to dark chocolate that is the problem. Unprocessed cacao is actually one of the best anti-inflammatories on the planet and should help relieve migraine headaches. There is a great article on the difference between “good” chocolate and “bad” chocolate at cocoa101blog.com.

  • Martha Hughes
    7 years ago

    Not for me!!!!!!! It’s the chocolate itself!! I’ve had the pure stuff and it’s deadly to me! I wish to say different, trust me. 🙁

  • Crystal Balanoff Ferguson
    7 years ago

    Bring me my chocolate, please! 🙂

  • Peter Langelaar
    7 years ago

    Also Dr Phillip Minton wrote a book about chocolate the healthychocolatebook healthfood of the gods check this interview with him. http://www.wnbnetworkwest.com/WnbAuthorsShowWellness.html

  • Peter Langelaar
    7 years ago

    Not all cacao is made equal the only cacao that will bennefit your health is a hi flavonoid one so no roasted beans and as less prossessing as possible like Prof.Rodger Corder mentioned in his Presentation: http://bit.ly/nDTv8u
    There is a new brand that inports his own beans from Peru (only the best) and use only the best technique to protect the flavonoids so they remain in the chocolate.
    Great taste! check this out http://www.thepowerofchocolate.eu like to taste it contact me at my facebook http://on.fb.me/nKRwhr
    Also see my blog where Shawn Stevenson – How Chocolate Can Save The World talkes about chocolate http://www.thepowerofchocolate.org

    Have a nice and healthy day

    Peter Langelaar

  • Teresa Hopper
    7 years ago

    Don’t they mention here that chocolate actually stops migraines for some people?

  • Susan Cleveland
    7 years ago

    I find that chocolate is not a trigger for me if I buy the good stuff. Cheap chocolate has other ingredients that ARE on my trigger list, such as vanillin, skim milk, and PGPR that Hershey started using instead of good old cocoa butter. So the results of chocolate being a trigger for me are mixed; cheap chocolate, yes, higher end chocolate, not at all.

  • Martha Hughes
    7 years ago

    Actually, the better chocolate is MORE of a trigger for me! Probably the more concentrated the chocolate is. The higher end, yummier stuff gives me the WORST migraines…lol!

  • Nicholas Graham
    7 years ago

    suuuure, you just want to get the GOOD chocolate…

  • Barbetta Reedy
    7 years ago

    I have found out that chocolate helps the migraine because chocolate kills the pain but with acid reflux chocolate can hurth that so a little is better than nothing.

  • Charry Black McDonald Jones
    7 years ago

    while chocolate is a trigger for my mom I am glad it is not one of mine! I love dark chocolate! (my mom can have white chocolate).

  • Martha Hughes
    7 years ago

    I can have white chocolate, no problem at all. So, I’ve switched. I’ve found some really yummy white chocolate too!!! 🙂

  • Leah K Watson
    7 years ago

    moderation is the key.i cant have a lot sugar of any kind regardless of sleep, stress & diet. sweets period triggers my migraines when I have too much of natural or artificial sweets/sweeteners.

  • Martha Hughes
    7 years ago

    It’s HUGE TRIGGER for me! So don’t go telling people chocolate is NOT a trigger! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRr

  • Joyce Fowler
    7 years ago

    I agree! Suddenly we are all lumped together. I have had some of the worst headaches of my life due to chocolate! Geez!

  • cantenen
    7 years ago

    Did you use a specific kind, amount, concentration of chocolate? ‘Dark’ chocolate (semi-sweet?) gave me migraines but ‘milk chocolate’ did not. Migraines ended in my 60’s, and slightly earlier with the research that gave us the first effective remedy – imetrex.

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