Does Eating Chocolate Help With Your Gout?

Around 1500 AD, a Spanish soldier who was part of the conquest of Mexico and who had observed the emperor of the Aztecs, Moctezuma II, stated that he took no other beverage than chocolate, served in a golden goblet and flavoured with spices like vanilla; his chocolate beverage was whipped into a froth that dissolved into the mouth. Sounds yummy doesn’t it? That was the first introduction of cocoa to the Europeans and became a very popular beverage by the mid 17th century; the rest is history as we say. Cocoa comes from the Theobroma cacao tree which is native to Central and South America, grows the fruit and inside the fruit; there are about 20 to 50 beans.

Cocoa is very rich in polyphenols like isoflavones, anthocyanins, flavanones, catechins, flavonols, flavanols and flavones. From all the foods known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease like tea, apples, red wine, onions; cocoa comes out on top with the highest antioxidants with polyphenol content providing you and I with the greatest cardio protection. The reason for this is that cocoa may thin out the blood to help avoid blood clots and may have the same benefits in aiding you to avoid blood clotting as aspirin!

Cocoa from chocolate is also rich in magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, vitamins A1, B1, B2, D, and E. You’ll know you’re consuming real chocolate if you feel energized after, not sluggish. 

The Science behind the Cacao bean

A 2007 Harvard Medical School study followed Panama’s Kuna people, which their diet consists mainly of cocoa, to study the effects of cocoa and flavanols. In general, cocoa and chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavanoids which benefits your cardiovascular health, including  it may help limit the risk of stroke and may impart anti aging properties, protecting our cells from premature destruction.

The theobromine that’s abundant in cocoa has also been found to reduce the risk of uric acid crystallization in the urine. In one study, they found that consuming moderate amounts of chocolate increased the concentration of theobromine in the urine which helped prevent uric acid crystallization.

It should be noted that what we are talking about here is not milk chocolate that we are so accustomed to, which is basically candy but raw cocoa and to a lesser extent, dark chocolate, since flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes. Adding milk reduces the overall cocoa content and increases saturated fat levels, missing out on the potential health benefits. What the researchers found was that the Kuna Indians who lived on the islands had decidedly lower rates of heart disease and cancer compared to the Panamanians who lived on the mainland who do not drink cocoa as the Kuna Indians!

Other studies have proven also that consuming cocoa may reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Finally, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 followed elderly men for 15 years as they consumed cocoa compared to other men who didn’t and found that the group of men that consumed cocoa had a 50% less risk of cardiovascular mortality and a 47% reduction in all-cause mortality. So the health benefits of cocoa are unanimous!

Tart Cherry Extract for Gout

So how does cacao benefit gout?

Very simply, cocoa contains flavonoids, powerful antioxidants that fight the symptoms of gout lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels and as these antioxidants improve blood circulation, they in turn may help increase the amount of uric acid levels that is dissolved in your bloodstream being finally processed properly and out of your urine and into your toilet bowl.

Raw cacao may prevent inflammation due to its interaction with leukotrienes providing relief from a gout attack working the same way NSAIDs do, whereby the flavonoids and polyphenols work together and act as COX2 inhibitors decreasing pain in your joints. Cocoa’s antioxidant properties help keep your body functioning at its optimal best and that also includes the proper functioning of your kidneys which is so important for the gout sufferer in preventing future gout attacks. Let’s not forget that cacao is also mood lifter which will provide you with a more positive and cheerful outlook on life!

Other Health Benefits of Cacao

  1. Cacao can improve immune health

Cocoa has shown to have positive effects on your immune system. Again, this is because of the flavonoids in cocoa which helps reduce inflammation. In turn, your immune system is able to respond better to threats.

  1. Cacao can help with allergies

Got allergy problems? Cacao might just help as it can improve the function of gut-associated lymphoid tissue. As a result, your body is protected against the effects of food allergies. In one study, they found that rats with a cocoa-rich diet were able to manage serious allergic reactions better. 

  1. Cacao can help regulate blood sugar

When you have gout, you probably also have a blood sugar problem. Cacao can easily remedy that as it contains antioxidants that help stabilize blood sugar. It can also improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin.

  1. Cacao can help reduce cancer risk

Because cacao is so rich in antioxidants, it can prevent the spread of cancer cells in the body. The particular antioxidants that help with this are called epicatechins and catechins. Several animal studies show that eating a diet rich in cocoa was able to help stop the spread of colon cancer cells in rodents. It can also protect against prostate and lung cancer. In human studies, cacao has been found to reduce the risk for certain cancers such as lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

What kind of chocolate can I eat?

Most chocolate is just bad for you which contains unhealthy fats, loads of sugar, artificial flavorings, lots of preservatives, has barely any real cocoa in it and has been heated to high temperatures killing most flavonoids! If you eat this type of “candy” chocolate, you will get gout and should be not part of your diet whatsoever. What I’m talking about is raw cacao chocolate products or raw certified organic cacao powder and raw cacao beans which you can find in your local health food store or on Amazon.com

You can also buy baking chocolate if you plan to make chocolate treats yourself. Avoid chocolate syrup as this has the least concentration of cocoa in it. You can also eat some dark chocolate from time to time in very minimal amounts, I prefer 99% pure dark chocolate but watch out since excessive consumption of any kind of chocolate, dark or milk chocolate will cause weight gain which will lead to obesity and will worsen your gout. Milk will also interfere with the absorption of polyphenols in your body. Please consult your doctor before adding raw cacao in your diet.

What About White Chocolate?

White chocolate should be completely avoided for gout because it does not contain any cocoa at all. It’s only made of milk solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. The last ingredient alone will be a cause for your uric acid levels to go high. It might even have a higher sugar content than regular milk chocolate.

Cocoa Risks

Cocoa really is a great ingredient but like anything, it should be consumed in moderation especially if you have high risk for kidney stones. This is because cocoa powder has a high oxalate content which can increase the risk for developing oxalate kidney stones. If you have experienced kidney stones in the past, it’s better to avoid cocoa altogether.

If you suffer from metabolic syndrome, you may also be better off avoiding chocolate and taking theobromine supplements instead. Again, this is because of the high oxalate content that chocolate has.

Because cocoa beans contain stimulants, it is best to avoid giving it to pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as kids. For pregnant women in particular, it is not advisable to consume cocoa beans in the late stage of pregnancy since it can constrict the blood vessel that connects to the fetus.

Ways to Include More Cocoa Into Your Diet

The best chocolate to consume is one that has zero total sugar. These are cacao nibs and unsweetened cocoa powder. When you purchase these, make sure to read the label since some cacao products have added sugar in them.

The good news is that one of the items above, cacao nibs, are very versatile and they can easily be added to most foods you are eating already. For instance, cacao nibs can be added to your regular smoothie. If you make your own nut butters, nut milks, and granola bars, cacao nibs can be added to them as well. Having oatmeal or yogurt for breakfast? Sprinkle in some cacao nibs. If you’re a coffee lover, adding cacao nibs to your lattes and cappuccinos will make it taste even better.

Cacao nibs can also be added to savory meals. When making a sauce for barbecue, you can include cacao nibs. When adding crust to your steak or duck, you can also use cacao nibs. This will definitely give it a one-of-a-kind flavor.

You won’t have a hard time adding more cocoa into your diet. Just be aware though that real cocoa or chocolate tastes very better. It can be surprising to find out the first time but the more frequent you include it in your meals, the more you’ll get used to the taste.

 

What has your experience been like consuming chocolate or cocoa for gout? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Posted by Spiro Koulouris

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    39 replies to "Gout, Cocoa and Chocolate"

    • bernat

      Bonsoir, J’ai 74 ans et toujours en bonne forme. 7 kms de marche par jour entre autres. Précédente crise de goutte associée à des problèmes cardiaques avec pose de 3 stents, j’avais 50 ans, ce dérèglement due à des repas pantagruéliques !
      Depuis, alimentation équilibrée et plus de goutte jusqu’à cette fête de Pâques ou je me suis, littéralement, gavé de chocolat au lait. Résultat une crise de goutte douloureuse sur un gros orteil.

    • Tony Hoshaw

      Another question, I’ve read potassium intake should be at least 4,000 to 5,500.What is your take on this? I’m getting my protein from cottage cheese, yogurt, eggs and nuts. I had a question about beans? I read avoid beans ? also avoid soups? can you give me some input on these also ? Thanks so much and have a great day.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Potassium is the third most abundant mineral in your body, and plays an important role in several body processes.

        However, very few people consume enough of it. In fact, nearly 98% of all adults in the US are not meeting the daily intake recommendations.

        Below are some foods that are excellent sources of potassium, as well as how much they contain in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving:

        Beet greens, cooked: 909 mg
        Yams, baked: 670 mg
        White potatoes, baked: 544 mg
        Soybeans, cooked: 539 mg
        Avocado: 485 mg
        Sweet potato, baked: 475 mg
        Spinach, cooked: 466 mg
        Edamame beans: 436 mg
        Salmon, cooked: 414 mg
        Bananas: 358 mg

        A healthy adult should aim to consume 3,500–4,700 mg of potassium daily from foods. Certain groups of people should aim to consume at least 4,700 mg per day.

        As for beans please read my post on “Gout and Beans” and you will see that they are an excellent plant-based protein.

        As for soups, it all depends on what is in it. Vegetarian based soups will not affect your uric acid levels in any negative way. Watch the salt intake too in soups.

    • Tony Hoshaw

      Hi Spiro, I started reading on your web site a few days ago and just subscribed. Thanks for all this info and sharing, I just bought some organic unsweetened cocoa zero sugar one ingredient. it is tested for metals at a lab to assure levels are safe. I seen a few articles before coming to your web and seen horrible for gout high in uric acid, but also seen a web that said what your saying. I’ve had several real bad flare ups and am avoiding sugar big time. Quit eating meat for now. I read to keep sugar below 25gms a day is that what you think? also I’ve read twice the potassium of your intake of sodium. I seen this on comments here on your web. what did you think of that?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Tony!

        Yes keep sugar levels below 25 grams a day ideally! I answered your question about potassium above.

    • Homer Lee

      Can a lactose free milk help reduce uric acid?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        There aren’t any studies that point to that, so I think it’s safe, any dairy product in general doesn’t affect gout unless it has lots of sugar or high fructose corn syrup of course. So go ahead and have a glass of lactose free milk. Nothing to worry about.

    • Rosa Crawford

      Can sugarless chocolate flair up gout?

    • MARTHA HURD-CALL

      Just purchased two bags of cold pressed cacao powder. How much should I consume daily for gout?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        One tablespoon a day is more than enough and yes you can consume daily. I have a small piece of 99% dark chocolate on most days.

    • James

      Are onion, garlic, green onion safe for gout sufferer?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Yes James! Part of complex carbohydrates and very good for your liver health and blood.

    • Muhammed

      Greetings to you my daughter learned how to make dark chocolate ,added a bit of butter and stevia with water. Is this a correct method will this benefit me?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Cocoa as you read in the article has its’ health benefits. To eat a little piece like I do is fine, remember the darker the better. As for gout, it won’t directly have an impact as other natural home remedies which are more popular but cocoa can be part of a gout diet.

    • crosswind

      Keep in mind…. Cacao & Chocolate are HIGH in oxalates and histamine—both can cause inflammation (including joint pain) if you genetically cannot break these down in the body or lack specific enzymes in your metabolism to do so. Pesticides are increasing this problem & killing off microbes that we need for this too. Google more on histamine intolerance, Low-Oxalate diet and Low-histamine diet.

    • Kay Williams

      Can you just add cocoa powder to coffee to help reduce uric acid?

    • Mo Green

      I have always loved only dark chocolate. 100% Baker’s chocolate and cocoa nibs I have to ration or I could eat a huge 8 section bar. I do not understand this. I crave this. I do not get the rapid heartbeat or arrhythmias as I do from caffeine/coffee/theophilline/tea/ephedrine/epinephine/matte/gurana root. I am VERY mercury
      fluoride/aluminum/tin and other dental alloy toxic. Does that have something to do with it? How does meythelation and thiols have to do with it?

    • Andrew

      I eat sugar free dark chocolate which I find in the health food section at my local supermarket.

      Is this ok? It’s a small bar around 50 grams.

      I don’t wont a gout flare-up.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Andrew!

        I recommend a little dark chocolate, the more purer the better, there is less sugar and there are many other health benefits.

    • David

      Theobromine exists in pure cocoa in quantities of roughly 17 mg per gram. Theobromine converts to different uric acids in the liver . I just figured this out, and I’m very bummed.

      Maybe there are great antioxidants too, but you’re also giving yourself quite a load of uric acid when you eat a bunch of chocolate

      https://www.researchgate.net/figure/13082147_fig3_Figure-1-Pathways-of-theobromine-metabolism-in-humans

    • Gary Noyes

      I have had two heart attacks from clogged arteries and have three stents with minor heart damage, and I couldn’t get my triglycerides below 150 even with 80 mg of simvastatin. I heard that cocoa had antioxidants for the heart so I started taking one Tbsp of raw cocoa powder daily and my triglycerides dropped down to 60 the following month in my test results.

      So I ate a bunch of candy to bring them back up plus cut the simvastatin down to 20 mg and my trigs went up to 80. Then I stopped the candy and cut the simvastatin down to 10mg and will see in a couple of weeks if my trigs are still too low, also I started eating one serving of oatmeal daily and my bad cholesterol dropped 38 points and is now at 108 total cholesterol which is almost too low.

      When I started treatment in 2010 my Cholesterol was 250 and my trigs were 205. So this next test will tell if I can stop the Medicine all together and use the alternative cures I am using now and that is GREAT as the Cholesterol medicines is hard on you liver and they have to run liver tests on me every 3 months. Hope this helps others with the same problem.

    • […] wants to live longer, and chocolate can help add up to your life length. Chocolate consists an antioxidant called polyphenols which prevent oxidation of harmful […]

    • Ira Nu

      I would really like some clarity on this – as I have already eliminated chocolate from my diet. I have a fairly authoritative Purine list and Theobromine is the very very top of that list.
      Here’s what Wiki says the chemical is:

      Theobromine, formerly known as xantheose,[1] is a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant, with the chemical formula C7H8N4O2.[1] It is found in chocolate, as well as in a number of other foods, including the leaves of the tea plant, and the kola (or cola) nut. It is classified as a xanthine alkaloid,[2] which also include the similar compounds theophylline and caffeine.[1] The compounds differ in their methylation.

      ???
      thanks

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Ira!

        If you read this study that I have linked to here you will see that the study concluded that theobromine inhibited xanthine oxidase leads to reduced uric acid. Mind you the study was conducted with rats but most studies are. The evidence does suggest that theobromine lowers uric acid levels in the blood and therefore is good for gout. Besides there is very little theobromine in chocolate and is considered safe for consumption.

    • […] gout. Sometimes if I’m craving something sweet, I try to fight the craving with a small piece of dark chocolate or some […]

    • Deborah

      Can 2% chocolate milk affect gout? The diet I have from the doctor stated that milk will help lower uric acid.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Deborah!

        Not really! I mean it is preferable to drink regular milk, check the sugar content in your chocolate milk brand, that could add to your glycemic index and can lead to a gout attack but if you drink it in moderation, you should be fine. Yes dairy in general does seem to lower uric acid levels. See my post on the subject here–> Gout and Dairy

    • Dan

      can almond milk with the dutch process chocolate give you gout?. This is in the product of Silk almond chocolate drink.

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Dan!

        Yes it can if you overdo it of course, if there is sugar it can cause flare ups.

    • Daniel

      Thank you for all the info! I awoke to a nasty bout of gout and after reading your blog, I found a container of 100% baking cocoa in the pantry. I added it to some hot water and am consuming it as I write. My question; is this type of cocoa useful and is the application ok?

      • Spiro Koulouris

        Hi Daniel!

        As long as it’s 100% heck even 90% or more pure cocoa, then it is fine, check the nutrition label. Raw Cocoa Powder would be ideal.

    • huy

      thank you for your continued research on gout. I found it very useful

    • […] Yes you can have some chocolate! […]

    • […] beets, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes and tomatoes. Other foods that are high in potassium are cocoa, granola, bran, milk, nuts, seeds and […]

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