Chocolate and FODMAPs

After a long wait, the Monash team analyzed chocolate last year and the news was glorious! YES….small amounts of dark chocolate would fit the low FODMAP diet criteria. IMG_1008edit-1 FODMAPers around the globe rejoiced! And I was one of them!

For those who don’t know my history, here is a little recap:

I am a registered dietitian and a low FODMAP diet follower.  I have learned which FODMAPs trigger my symptoms and back off eating them when I want a calm belly.  For me, the low FODMAP diet was a long awaited answer to my very sensitive tummy post intestinal resection.  When I was pregnant with my middle son, I developed a strangulated  intestine and required immediate surgery to save my life–and that of my little growing baby within. It was a very scary time. I was in the hospital for 10 days and every morning the obstetric nurse came with the doppler to listen for my son’s heart beat.  Honestly, I cried every time I heard it.  Despite a miserable post-operation course, I felt so grateful that my son survived this trauma.  Every day that I see my college aged grown boy, I feel extremely blessed.  With 6 1/2 feet of my intestine removed along with of my ileo-cecal valve (the door between the small and large intestine), I struggled with terrible pains and cramping…daily. I later developed small intestinal overgrowth (yikes!) which as many of you know…is NO fun! Unfortunately, I am a high risk for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth since I don’t have my ileo-cecal valve.

But the low FODMAP diet has kept me in check. Fortunately, I had my nutrition degree throughout this ordeal and kept abreast of the research in GI nutrition. I learned about the low FODMAP diet back in 2009. Since then… I have been a new person.  It’s been such a rewarding experience to share what I have learned about FODMAPs with all of you. Really. Rewarding.

So…le’t talk chocolate. I mean, really, what’s more important? Ha!IMG_1014editt-1

Monash gives dark chocolate the ‘green light’ for a 30 gram portion.  Because chocolate can be a GI irritant and  is high in fat–tolerance is variable. Bottom line: Don’t over do it!!  So what’s a 30 gram portion–about 2 tablespoons of semi sweet morsels.  For cocoa, the limit is 2-3 heaping teaspoons–about 1 heaping tablespoon.

In an article in Antioxidants and Redox Signaling in November 2011 titled: Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease, the authors note that cocoa has more phenolic antioxidants than most foods. Epicatechin (a natural plant phenol antioxidant) in cocoa provides a favorable effect on the blood vessels (lowers blood pressure). Cocoa polyphenols provide anti-inflammatory effects too. Cocoa can protect our nerves from injury and inflammation, protect the skin from UV radiation when applied on the skin( ie cocoa in lotions), and may help us feel full, preventing over eating. Chocolate may improve our mood (Ah…ya think? Yup.)  The summary of this article: The benefits of eating moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption likely outweighs the risks. Yahoo! 🙂

I am a big fan of fruit dipped in a little chocolate because a small amount just really hits the spot! IMG_0996edit-1I simply melt 2 tablespoons of semi-sweet chocolate chips with a drizzle of vegetable oil and heat in the microwave about 30 seconds and stir. Sometimes you need to heat the chocolate a little longer to get the morsels to melt (microwaves vary)–just watch the chocolate closely as you don’t want to burn it.

Choose a semi-sweet chocolate chip that has low fiber (1 gram or less) such as Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips. The potential FODMAPs in dark chocolate are fructans and GOS, fiber sources.  So, I like to choose those with lower fiber amounts. Some fair trade chocolate is quite high in fiber.  Of course, milk chocolate should be avoided as it contains lactose.

Just a little chocolate added to fruit makes a delicious dessert.  You can dip the fruit in the chocolate or drizzle the melted chocolate over a low FODMAP fruit kabob.  I like to add a little sprinkles because I think they are fun.  Nonpareils typically are made with sugar, cornstarch and confectioner’s glaze–so would be low FODMAP.

No major recipe today, just melt, dip or drizzle–it’s really quite easy.