Tired of having to give up your favorite foods? Plot twist: here’s an indulgent treat that you can keep. Dark chocolate has been revered for its anti-oxidant and heart-protective properties, and may be helpful for uric acid stone formers!
What is dark chocolate?
All chocolates are made from cacao beans, in an extensive process where the beans are fermented, roasted, grinded, then melted into chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor is then blended with cocoa butter and sugar; and depending on the chocolate product, milk and other flavoring compounds may be added as well.
As its name suggests, the main difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, is the exclusion of milk and/or milk powder in dark chocolate!
Dark chocolates typically have a higher percentage of cocoa solids and no milk compounds added, which contributes to its bittersweet flavor1.
Is dark chocolate good for kidney stones?
It could be, if you’re prone to forming uric acid stones. Dark chocolates are rich in theobromine, which inhibits the crystallization process of uric acid particles2. Milk chocolates, on the other hand, are low in theobromine.
In 2018, researchers investigated the impact of milk chocolate, chocolate powder and dark chocolate intake on uric acid crystallization in urine. Participants who consumed dark chocolate had a higher concentration of urinary theobromine, and significantly less uric acid crystallization, as compared to those on milk chocolate!
Does this mean I can eat all the dark chocolate I want?
No! Chocolate products are also full of sugar and oxalates, which can increase your risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones. It’s a risk that researchers from the aforementioned study highlighted as well, which led to their recommendation that theobromine supplements may be helpful for patients with a history of uric acid stones3.
So what should I do then?
If you’re itching for a late-night snack, take comfort in knowing that a tiny square of dark chocolate should be fine. Keep the milk chocolates at bay, and continue to moderate your intake of sugary treats!
Beggs, A. (2019, December 11). What is chocolate? don’t go through the rest of your life not knowing. Bon Appétit. Retrieved June 3, 2022, from https://www.bonappetit.com/gallery/what-is-chocolate
Grases , F., Rodriguez, A., & Costa-Bauza, A. (2014, October). Theobromine inhibits uric acid crystallization. A potential application in the treatment of uric acid nephrolithiasis. PloS one. Retrieved June 3, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25333633/
Costa-Bauza, A., Grases, F., Calvó, P., Rodriguez, A., & Prieto, R. M. (2018, October 16). Effect of consumption of cocoa-derived products on uric acid crystallization in urine of healthy volunteers. MDPI. Retrieved June 3, 2022, from https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/10/1516