Benefits Of Dark Chocolate For Headaches


Chocolate has been a favourite food for many people all over the globe. Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus named the cocoa plant Theobroma cacao,  which originated from Latin word Theobroma meaning the food of gods.¹

Chocolate can be of varied types, based on the composition of cocoa with which they are made. 

  1. Dark chocolate
  2. Milk chocolate
  3. Gianduja chocolate
  4. White chocolate.¹

Of these, dark Chocolate has been regarded with many health benefits like:

  1. Good for the heart
  2. Maintains your glucose levels
  3. Helps to fight cancer.
  4. Decreases hunger, helps in weight loss
  5. Maintains healthy gut bacteria
  6. Improves immunity
  7. Increases brain efficiency
  8. Elevates your mood.¹,²

Dark chocolate for headaches

Nutrients of dark chocolate 

Chocolate, in general, is composed of Macronutrients like

  • Carbohydrates-50-60%
  • Fats- 32-35%
  • Proteins -3-7%. 

 Other nutrients like:

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron.2,3,4

 In addition to the above dark chocolate contains more amount of flavonoids. They have antioxidant properties i.e they fight free radicals  (actively moving ions) in the body. Dark chocolate also consists of caffeine and theobromine.4

It is noticed that the bioavailability of these supplements is more when eating Dark chocolate alone rather than in other types of chocolate where milk has been one of the major component.4

Benefits of dark chocolate for headaches

Headaches can be multifactorial. There can be multiple causes like

  • Stress headaches
  • Migraine headaches
  • Neural origin headaches
  • Hypertension causing headaches
  • Eyesight related

There is no scientific evidence to date giving affirmation of reduction or aggravating headaches with dark chocolate. Rather, some of the components of Dark chocolate, and their effects can help in the reduction of headache symptoms. Dark chocolate elevates mood by releasing dopamine, which can help in reducing the intensity of headaches, by elevating the overall mood.
There were a vast number of studies conducted, to correlate the relationship between headaches and dark chocolates, but none were able to affirm the relation. Some of the studies confirmed the positive correlation, while other studies have opposite results.
By comparing the composition of dark chocolate, many scientists explained that dark chocolate contributes to migraine for the following reasons:

  • Increased serotonin and tryptophan
  • Increased nitrogen oxide concentration, and activation 
  • Dilation of blood vessels in the brain
  • Increased oxygen consumption
  • Increased caffeine and tyramine.⁵

But when the studies were conducted in Japan and India, none of the subjects stated that they had developed a headache from eating dark chocolate.
Some of the researchers explained that the following factors help in the reduction of migraine.

  • Increased Magnesium and Riboflavin level  
  • Modulation of gut bacteria that helps in migraine prevention
  • Elevation of mood
  • Reduce depression
  • Reduce negative thoughts
  • Reduce inflammation in the nervous system.⁵

A study conducted by Lippi G stated that there is a reduction in the incidence of migraine with the intake of dark chocolate by 2-3 fold times in the test subjects.⁶
Researchers expressed mixed opinions between headaches and dark chocolate. Caffeine is proposed to be the triggering factor for migraine. Most people experience headaches with caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Eating chocolate in such cases proved to cause good results.

Best dark chocolate for headache

Dark chocolate comes in various compositions with respect to the grades of cocoa present in them and this may range from 40-100%. Dark chocolate with more than 70% of cocoa, has more benefits when compared to those below 70%.⁵

 The higher the cocoa, the more flavonoids present in them which are responsible for the most health benefits ⁵

Best time to eat dark chocolate for people with headache

According to research, there is no particular time to have dark chocolate in the context of headaches. one can eat dark chocolate when feeling the onset of a headache, to encounter any effect.
One can eat dark chocolate as a snack or as a healthy diet between lunch and breakfast. Dark chocolate is advised to be eaten on an empty stomach and after 30 mins of having your meal if planning for weight loss.⁵

Risks and considerations

What are the side effects?

Anything beyond the limit always proves to be hazardous. When dark chocolate is consumed in larger quantities,  it cause some side effects like

  • Altered heartbeats
  • Nausea
  • Inability to sleep
  • Dehydration
  • Gastric imbalance
  • Weight gain.⁴

How much is enough

Recent reviews stated that 30 g of dark chocolate, when consumed daily, proved to be causing many health benefits.⁵

When consumed more, it may lead to the side effects mentioned above.


Though dark chocolate is believed to cause a reduction in headaches, scientifically no affirmative conclusions were drawn from any of the studies conducted so far. Dark chocolate reduced the headache in most but was also found to be a trigger factor in some. Dark chocolate has pros and cons for which its usage must be justified by oneself. More studies have to be conducted, in this context on dark chocolate as it is one of the most intriguing topics.


  1. Montagna MT, Diella G, Triggiano F, Caponio GR, Giglio OD, Caggiano G, et al. Chocolate, “food of the gods”: history, science, and human health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health [Internet]. 2019 Jan [cited 2023 Jan 3];16(24):4960. Available from: 
  2. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A. Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxid Redox Signal [Internet]. 2011 Nov 15 [cited 2023 Jan 3];15(10):2779–811. Available from: 
  3. Şentürk T, Günay Ş. The mysterious light of dark chocolate. Turk Kardiyol Dern Ars. 2015 Mar;43(2):199–207.
  4. Samanta S, Sarkar T, Chakraborty R, Rebezov M, Shariati MA, Thiruvengadam M, et al. Dark chocolate: An overview of its biological activity, processing, and fortification approaches. Current Research in Food Science [Internet]. 2022 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Jan 3];5:1916–43. Available from: 
  5. Nowaczewska M, Wiciński M, Kaźmierczak W, Kaźmierczak H. To eat or not to eat: a review of the relationship between chocolate and migraines. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Mar [cited 2023 Jan 3];12(3):608. Available from: 
  6. Lippi G, Mattiuzzi C, Cervellin G. Chocolate and migraine: the history of an ambiguous association. Acta Biomedica Atenei Parmensis [Internet]. 2014 Dec 17 [cited 2023 Jan 3];85(3):216–21. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Swathi Gadadasu

I am Dr Swathi G, from India, with experience as a dental clinician for 8 years, oral physician and Oral Maxillofacial Radiologist for 4 years, an academician for 3.5 years, an academic writer for 3 years and a medical writer for 1 year. With sound knowledge of clinical, non-clinical, scientific and academic and medical writing, working as a Freelancer Writer at Work foster. Due to my passion for writing, completed many national and international Publications in various indexed and well-known journals.

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