Chocolate Allergy

Next time, you buy a box of chocolate for someone or a special occasion, beware a study revealed one out of every 500 people, will have an allergic reaction eating chocolate. Less than two percent, of the population have a food allergy. The ingredients in the chocolate, such as corn syrup, soybeans, lecithin, gluten and nuts, can trigger intolerance or allergic symptoms. Also, unclean facilities, where chocolate is packaged (Outside the United States, processing chocolate may not have stringent health codes.), may have unintentional additives in chocolate, including trace amounts of rat and mouse droppings, or other insect parts, when consumed have an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions includes: Headaches, heartburn, rectal itching, coronary problems, feeling of anger, irritability, confusion, depression, hives, skin irritation, and sometimes acne. Theobromine found in cacao beans, stimulates the nervous system and heart rate. Good quality chocolate produced, with a high percentage of coca liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and sometimes vanilla, will have less additives, to cause an allergic reaction. Also, high quality made chocolate will cost more, than least expensive chocolate, containing many additives. Often, ingredients are listed on the product label.

Sometimes food manufactures will recall products, when ingredients were not labeled, which may cause an allergic reaction. In January 2005, Trader Joe’s brand Gourmet Chocolate Fudge was recalled in eight States: Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, because it may have contained walnuts, not listed as an ingredient. Those allergic to walnuts might have purchased this product, unaware of the health concern.

Skin tests and blood tests can determine if a person is allergic to chocolate. Skin test involves pricking, scratching or injecting food extracts, and waiting to see if any redness or swelling occurs, within a localized area on the skin. Examine a blood sample by a radioallergosorbent test (RAST), for antibodies, that correspond to specific foods or food additives. Patients having an allergic reaction, eating chocolate, would be prescribed anti-diarheals, for gastrointestinal symptoms, and creams to relieve skin rashes or irritation. During severe allergic reactions, which can cause asthma attacks or breathing problems, antihistamine, corticosteroid or bronchodilac medication is administered or prescribed. Also, Epinephrine could be injected, which helps to restore normal respiration, by opening breathing tubes.

In moderation, people eating chocolate derive health benefits, including reduce chance of heart disease and increase longevity. Dark chocolate contains flavenoids, an antioxidant known to lower cholesterol. According to Italian researchers, eating chocolate can increase sexual fulfillment or increase a person’s libido.

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