Can I Eat White Chocolate If I'm Allergic to Chocolate?

White chocolate isn't really chocolate, so you may be able to enjoy it.

white chocolate
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If you're allergic to chocolate, you likely can still eat white chocolate. However, your reaction to white chocolate likely will depend on the actual reasons you're allergic or sensitive to chocolate.

To understand why this is so, it helps to have a little background on the ingredients used in what we call "chocolate," and how chocolate is produced.

What Is Chocolate, Anyway?

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are grown in tropical regions in west Africa, Central, and South America, and in parts of southeast Asia.

Cacao beans grow in large pods on cacao trees.

In order to turn these raw cacao beans into chocolate, they're first harvested and their pods are removed. Then they're roasted and processed into two major components: cocoa powder and cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter is nearly pure fat, and it isn't even brown like cacao beans (which are a dark brown), cocoa powder, or dark chocolate. Instead, it's a pale yellow or off-white color.

Cocoa powder, meanwhile, contains proteins, phenolic compounds, caffeine, sugars, minerals, and flavor compounds. It's dark brown, like the cacao beans from which it's made. Cocoa powder tastes like what we think of as "chocolate," while cocoa butter has a very mild, slightly chocolatey taste and odor.

If you're truly allergic to a component of pure chocolate, your allergy most likely involves a component of the cocoa powder, not the fat in the cocoa butter. The chocolate we eat is mainly cocoa powder or what's called cocoa liquor (a mixture of cocoa powder and cocoa butter).

To make chocolate bars and other chocolate products, manufacturers add sugar and cocoa butter, along with other ingredients such as milk (for milk chocolate) and nuts. It's also possible to be allergic to one or more of the other ingredients used to make chocolate products, especially the milk and nuts.

White Chocolate: Possibly a Better Alternative

Despite its name, white chocolate doesn't really contain any real chocolate. True gourmet white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, with sugar, vanilla extract, and usually some milk powder thrown in (most manufacturers use powdered milk, rather than regular liquid milk, to make chocolate, since the powdered milk works better).

Therefore, if your allergy or sensitivity involves some protein or another compound found in cocoa powder but not in cocoa butter, you should be able to handle pure white chocolate just fine.

However, most commercially made white chocolate isn't perfectly pure, and this can cause a problem for people with other allergies or sensitivities.

First off, any white chocolate you purchase almost certainly has been produced on lines shared with regular chocolate. So if your allergy or sensitivity to chocolate is severe, but you still truly crave white chocolate, you may have to resort to making your own white chocolate.

Next, as I said above, white chocolate generally includes sugar (or another sweetener) and usually includes milk ingredients. Commercially produced white chocolate often contains soy lecithin, as well. If you have allergies or sensitivities to any of these ingredients, you may need to steer clear.

Many commercially produced candies are made on shared lines with other major allergens. Those with peanut allergies, tree nut allergies, wheat allergies, corn allergies, or celiac disease should be sure to check for cross-contamination on manufacturing lines before eating high-risk foods like chocolates.

A Word from Verywell

What should you do if you've ruled out allergies or sensitivities to milk, soy, nuts, and other possible ingredients in chocolate, so you're pretty sure your only problem is chocolate?

If you'd like to considering trying white chocolate to see if you can make it work in your diet, your next step is to give your internist or allergist a call.

She can advise you of any precautions you may need to take given the nature of your prior reactions (whether they were allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities) or arrange for in-office testing.

Source:

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. "Chapter 12: Sugars, Chocolate, and Confectionary." Rev. Ed. New York: Scribner. 2004.