Lactose is a milk sugar found in dairy products and food products which contain milk or a milk derivative. If you are lactose intolerant, your body has a difficult time processing lactose. You must assess the ingredients in chocolate to determine whether you can eat it without developing negative symptoms.
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Chocolate is basically derived from cocoa powder. Cocoa powder comes from cacao beans. On its own, cocoa powder or cacao beans do not contain lactose.
By definition, milk chocolate contains lactose because it contains milk proteins. However, manufacturer recipes differ so the amount of lactose in milk chocolate varies from product to product. You might find that certain products do not have an effect on you while others cause intolerance symptoms. If you are an avid fan of milk chocolate but have negative symptoms, you may be able to take medication prior to eating it. Your physician can recommend an over-the-counter medication that contains enzymes which can assist your body in breaking down the lactose proteins.
If you find that milk chocolate is difficult for you to digest, dark chocolate may be a better option. Dark chocolate is a purer form of chocolate and contains minimal or no lactose. In addition, dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants, which help to prevent heart disease by blocking the accumulation of cholesterol, states the Cleveland Clinic. Antioxidants protect the body’s cells from free radicals. Free radicals are commonly associated with the development of cancer. Dark chocolate is also generally lower in fat over milk chocolate. However, it is important to consume only the recommended serving size.
Signs of Lactose Intolerance
Being able to identify the signs of intolerance can help you to determine which varieties of chocolate are safe to eat and which ones you should avoid. If you are lactose intolerant, you may notice some bloating, gas or nausea. In moderate to severe cases, you might also experience abdominal cramps and even diarrhea.