If you have IBS, you may be able to enjoy chocolate – even if on the low FODMAP diet.
This post will highlight how you can enjoy chocolate with IBS, alongside what ingredients you should be aware of. We will discuss the FODMAP content of chocolate and what portion sizes are within low FODMAP levels.
What are the benefits of chocolate on gut health?
Chocolate may provide some benefit to our gut! Chocolate contains compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids. These compounds exhibit anti-inflammatory effects in the gut and interact with gut bacteria (1).
Could chocolate trigger your IBS symptoms?
Contrary to this, chocolate can be a source of fat, caffeine and lactose. All of these may be IBS triggers, depending on the individual.
Fat may increase IBS symptoms, although the evidence for this is limited.
However, one study showed that people with IBS reported discomfort and pain following a high-fat meal, whereas those without IBS did not (3, ). This may be due to high-fat foods slowing down the movement of gas through the gut, more so in people with IBS (9).
High fat foods could also increase sensitivity in the gut, so symptoms such as bloating and gas are more prominent in IBS (4).
The caffeine found in chocolate comes from cocoa beans. The amount of caffeine in a standard 45g Cadbury bar is around 9mg, around the equivalent of 1 cup of tea (5). 9mg is not considered to be high, but it could add up if you are consuming other caffeine-containing foods.
Milk and white chocolate contain less caffeine. As a result, they do contain more of the FODMAP, lactose. If you are sensitive to lactose, you need to limit these types of chocolate to 30g to avoid symptoms (6).
Is chocolate low FODMAP?
However, it is essential to remember that you don’t need to 100% exclude FODMAPs. It is recommended that FODMAPs are reduced.
- 20g milk chocolate (4 squares)
- 25g white chocolate (4 squares)
- 30g dark chocolate (5 squares or half a small bar)
Milk chocolate has a lower portion size as it has the highest lactose content.
Low FODMAP chocolate brands
There are not many chocolate brands that are certified as low FODMAP.
Choosing darker chocolate with a higher cacao percentage of 70% and above or opting for vegan chocolate will help, as they will have less of the FODMAP lactose.
Below is a list of options that can help you with this:
- ACAZEN Fine Organic Milk Chocolate (certified low FODMAP by Monash)
- Lindt: Dark Sea Salt, Mint intense, raspberry intense
- Green & Black’s: mint and dark ginger chocolate
- Vegan Galaxy: Smooth Orange, Caramel and Sea Salt, Caramelised Hazelnut
- Moo free (UK)
- Cadbury Bournville cocoa
Added High FODMAP ingredients in chocolate
You can stick within the recommended portion sizes of plain chocolate bars that have limited added ingredients. This is the most reassuring way to know that it is low FODMAP.
You may want to mix it up by choosing other types of chocolate. If choosing other chocolates, remember to look for other added ingredients that increase the FODMAP content.
Examples of ingredients that increase the FODMAP content of chocolate include:
- Sweeteners: sugar alcohols including sorbitol and mannitol
- Dried fruits
- Inulin or chicory root
- Sugars; honey, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup
- Chocolate containing a high carob content may contain more fructan (a FODMAP). But this has not yet been tested in a chocolate bar.
Chocolate substitute in IBS
If instead you are looking for something sweet and more than a piece of chocolate, our post on low FODMAP desserts may hit the spot.
Alternatively, below are brands that offer low FODMAP sweet treats:
Chocolate can usually be enjoyed in IBS.
As discussed, you may be sensitive to specific ingredients in chocolate. However, sticking within particular portion sizes can prevent symptoms. This will depend on your sensitivity to these ingredients, and working with a Registered Dietitian will help you work this out.
Written by Camilla Donaldson (BSc Hons) student dietitian and edited by Beth Willson BSc Hons RD Surgical Dietitian