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Cocoa powder & nausea/upset stomach - why?

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
I'm trying to supplement magnesium through my diet and although one of my favourite drinks is unsweetened cocoa powder dissolved in boiling water, too much of it gives me faint nausea and a slightly upset stomach. This has improved by moving from cheap powder to organic but the problem is still there. Chocolate in any other form (which I now avoid because I want to lose weight) gives me no problems.

Any idea what causes this and whether there's anything I can do to take cocoa powder without problems? It's rich in antioxidants as well as magnesium so if it didn't make me feel ill, it would be very healthy!
 

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
Oh... I think Wikipedia has answered my question (I did google before I posted but I persisted using slightly different search terms!). Cocoa contains theobromine, which can cause nausea and other stuff. I'm still a bit surprised that even a heaped teaspoon can do this to me, though, and I don't get this effect if I have a hot chocolate at a cafe. Perhaps the milk in cafe hot chocolate is protective.
 

maddietod

Senior Member
Messages
2,856
I get IBS from cocoa; it's the only thing that does this. I melt chocolate in boiling water instead.

Madie
 

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
Hi madie - odd, isn't it? I have just treated myself to a 33g bar of 70% cocoa solids chocolate which I ate with no problem, but a teaspoon of cocoa powder makes me ill.
 

November Girl

Senior Member
Messages
328
Location
Texas
Sasha, would it help to have a swallow or two of milk before your cocoa? or perhaps a rice cake or something that would help protect your stomach.
 

Carrigon

Senior Member
Messages
808
Location
PA, USA
Chocolate or cocoa powder causes acid reflux, even if you're not getting the acid, you're getting the nausea. It relaxes a muscle in your digestive tract.

I take magnesium supplements and they do work, but you need like at least 500mg a day to feel it.
 

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
Sasha, would it help to have a swallow or two of milk before your cocoa? or perhaps a rice cake or something that would help protect your stomach.

That's a thought - I used to drink cocoa powder dissolved in hot milk but have been on a weight-reducing diet since January and cut out milk, among other things. I never used to have this problem when I took the powder as a milky drink. Thanks! I am nearly at my target weight and think I need to increase my calcium intake anyway.
 

Sasha

Fine, thank you
Messages
17,863
Location
UK
Chocolate or cocoa powder causes acid reflux, even if you're not getting the acid, you're getting the nausea. It relaxes a muscle in your digestive tract.

I take magnesium supplements and they do work, but you need like at least 500mg a day to feel it.

Hi Carrigon - thanks, I didn't know that! I just googled a bit and found on the net that "Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine (a compound that occurs naturally in many plants such as cocoa, tea and coffee plants), which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus" and that "Magnesium deficiency is another cause of reflux because magnesium helps the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach relax, allowing the food to go down."

I think I am deficient in magnesium (and am currently supplementing it). Ironically, cocoa powder is hign in magnesium!