Having grown up in a household where several family members suffered from migraines, I learned early on that some foods can be a headache trigger. One sibling gets hit when he eats turkey, another when she eats certain cheeses. Added to the list of things they should generally avoid (provided by the family doctor) were chocolate, dairy, certain breads, and a few other meats.
Being a teenager at the time I couldn’t imagine giving up such staples as chocolate and bread, but I also hadn’t suffered from a migraine yet! Thankfully, the occasional ones I do get now aren’t food triggered, but if they were there’s some possible good news on the horizon: a new study just presented this week suggests that dark chocolate may actually help alleviate migraine pain, instead of cause it.
The testing found that cocoa powder given to rats actually had a healing effect on inflamed cells related to migraine headaches. The part of the article that I liked best, because I find it so fascinating, suggests that people who claim chocolate triggers their migraines may actually be craving the chocolate at the onset of the headache because their body knows they need relief, but they associate the chocolate consumption with the headache:
“If we go back and look at what we assume would trigger a migraine, a lot of those things were not triggers at all but were, in the case of food, cravings that occurred as part of the migraine but were misinterpreted as the cause,” said Dr. Joel Saper, director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute.
In other words, eating chocolate an hour before an imminent migraine might lead a person to believe that the chocolate caused the migraine.
Of course, further studies will be needed since the new study contradicts the long-held belief. For more health benefits of chocolate, check out: Chocolate can help heart attack survivors, chocolate may help protect against dementia, chocolate milk helps muscle recovery, chocolate is good for your brain and your bones.