Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD, Dipl IBLM
Dark chocolate is a unique delicacy that only a few people can resist. It's famed for its strong flavor and distinct bitterness, but is it safe for IBS patients?
Dark chocolate is a popular type of chocolate that is made from mostly cacao beans that have been treated with a process called “tempering”. Tempering dark chocolate helps to improve flavor and makes it more stable.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
The chief ingredient of dark chocolate is cocoa, making it a rich source of theobromine, a stimulating agent. Consuming dark chocolate leads to the formation of phenylethylamine, imparting a feeling of goodness. It also enhances tryptophan secretion, which acts as a precursor to serotonin.
Dark chocolate it safe for the consumption by people with IBS in low FODMAP serving sizes. Its health benefits include:
- Safe for diabetics (zero/low sugar content)
- Combats insulin resistance
- Reduces LDL in the blood
- Protects against age-related memory loss
- Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut
- It is rich in flavanols
- It enhances the growth of natural probiotics like lactobacillus (LAB) and bifidobacteria in the intestine
Is Dark Chocolate Safe for IBS ?
Most dark chocolates contain little to no sugar and are high in cocoa solids. Some people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may find dark chocolate helpful in controlling their symptoms.
- According to the Monash low FODMAP app, consuming around 30g of pure dark chocolate (5 squares or 1/2 a small bar) per meal is safe on the low FODMAP diet.
- When consuming 85% dark chocolate, the low FODMAP serving size per meal is 20g.
- If you are consuming milk chocolates, don't eat over 13-25g/meal, as the safe serving size differs slightly based on the brand. Milk chocolate contains lactose, which is high FODMAP.
- If you like dark chocolate drinks, choose cocoa-based products (limited to 10g/meal) and never carob-based (high FODMAP).
Dark Chocolate in a Low FODMAP Diet
Unlike milk chocolate, low FODMAP dark chocolate contains IBS friendly ingredients, which helps relieve intestinal discomfort while promoting gut-friendly bacteria. Dark chocolate is a rich source of polyphenols (anthocyanins, catechins and procyanidins).
- Polyphenols enhance prebiotics in the gut.
- Polyphenols have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which help to prevent gut inflammation.
- Polyphenols support vasodilation, which decreases blood pressure.
Dark chocolate also contains:
- Copper (acts as a co-factor in many enzymes and metabolic pathways).
- Magnesium (crucial for ATP generation, maintains natural muscle tone, also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent)
- Potassium (maintains electrolyte balance and blood pressure along with food digestion)
Are Dark Chocolate Brands Low FODMAP?
When buying dark chocolate, it's essential to read the ingredients. To qualify as a low FODMAP dark chocolate, it should not contain:
- Dairy source (lactose)
- Gluten containing grains (triggers IBS discomfort due to fructans)
- High fructose content (high FODMAP)
The common ingredients found in most commercial dark chocolates include:
- Cocoa mass/cacao powder
- Vanilla as a flavoring agent
- Added sugar
- Dairy-based component (found in dark chocolate with 85% concentration)
Commercial chocolate brands like Dove, Hershey and Lindt have low FODMAP dark chocolate products, with some products containing 100% dark chocolate. They are more suitable for consumption than those containing dairy products.
Homemade Dark Chocolate Low FODMAP Recipes
Here are some homemade recipes prepared using low FODMAP dark chocolate:
Dark Chocolate Cookies (no flour)
Who doesn't love cookies? But are they safe for IBS patients? Try these dark chocolate cookies made without wheat flour.
Ingredients for 32 small cookies:
- Egg whites (3)
- Baking sugar (1 3/4 cup)
- Raw cocoa powder (3/4 cup)
- Pure vanilla essence (1 1/2 tsp)
- Dark chocolate (2 tbsp)
- Preheat a baking oven to 350° F
- Prepare the cookie sheets
- Whip all the ingredients thoroughly (until the mixture is fluffy) while occasionally adding cocoa, sugar, and vanilla.
- Use a teaspoon to scoop 32 balls of dough on the cookie sheet.
- Let them bake for 8 minutes (keep checking the crust)
- Take out when the cookie tops form a brown crust
Low FODMAP Dark Chocolate Brownie
A delectable treat, you can prepare this in just 60 seconds!
- Sugar (2 tbsp)
- Brown rice flour (2 tbsp)
- Cocoa powder (1 tbsp)
- Vinegar oil (1 tbsp)
- Vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
- Peanuts for garnishing (1 tsp)
- Mix all the ingredients well
- Pour it into a baking container.
- Microwave for 60 seconds (if the texture feels gooey, go for another 30 seconds)
- Let it cool and scoop
In conclusion, dark chocolate is low in FODMAPs and can be enjoyed on a low fodmap diet. However, be sure to check the ingredients list as some dark chocolate brands may contain high FODMAP ingredients. Stick to the low FODMAP serving sizes when enjoying dark chocolate.
Consult with a registered dietitian if you have any questions about following a low FODMAP diet. Learn about the low FODMAP diet in our free dietitian led FODMAP Beginner 101 course.