Chocolate may trigger acid reflux in some people. While chocolate is not acidic, it can increase reflux symptoms by relaxing the esophageal sphincter muscle.

Eating chocolate may worsen or trigger acid reflux in some people.

The National Institute of Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) recommends avoiding chocolate if you frequently experience acid reflux or have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Keep reading to learn why chocolate causes heartburn and which varieties may result in fewer symptoms.

Chocolate may cause heartburn for a couple of different reasons. These include:

Methylxanthine

A 2020 review of research on GERD notes that chocolate can decrease pressure in the lower part of the esophageal sphincter. This muscle typically prevents food and acid in your stomach from going back into your esophagus.

When this muscle is relaxed, you may be more likely to experience symptoms of acid reflux.

Chocolate comes from the cacao plant and contains methylxanthine, a compound similar to caffeine. This compound can relax the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.

Different types of chocolate may contain different levels of methylxanthine. The values in the table below are in milligrams per ounce (mg/oz) and milligrams per gram (mg/g).

cocoa powderabout 800 mg/oz (28.5 mg/g)
unsweetened (baker’s) chocolateabout 450 mg/oz (16 mg/g)
semisweet and sweet dark chocolateabout 150–160 mg/oz (5.4–5.7 mg/g)
milk chocolateabout 64 mg/oz (2.3 mg/g)

White chocolate contains only a negligible amount of methylxanthine.

Fat content

Chocolate contains fat in the form of cacao butter. Milk and white chocolate also typically contain added fat from milk.

Eating content high in fat typically causes the digestive system to produce more bile in order to aid digestion. This can result in a higher level of acid in your stomach.

The effect may be more noticeable if you eat large quantities of milk chocolate or have chocolate after a meal high in fats.

Learn about which foods to avoid if you have acid reflux.

If you have GERD, eating chocolate may cause heartburn.

Still, some people may be able to eat a small amount without having symptoms. If you decide to try chocolate with GERD, you might want to try:

  • avoiding eating it before bed
  • opting for a low fat variety, such as a dairy-free or reduced-fat option
  • eating a small amount to see how it affects you
  • avoiding eating chocolate alongside or after other foods that trigger acid reflux

Read more about strategies to reduce or prevent acid reflux.

Why am I getting heartburn from chocolate?

Chocolate can cause heartburn for some people. You may want to avoid chocolate or try eating only small amounts if you have acid reflux.

What foods cause heartburn the most?

Foods and drinks that typically trigger heartburn include citrus, tomatoes, onions, garlic, spicy foods, alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, and mint. Some people also get acid reflux from mint.

Why does chocolate give me chest pain?

You may get chest pain after eating chocolate due to acid reflux. Chocolate is a known trigger for heartburn.

What foods help acid reflux go away?

No specific foods treat acid reflux but you may be able to relieve acid reflux with herbal remedies like ginger or chamomile tea. You may find that over-the-counter reflux medications or prescription strength options help prevent and treat acid reflux.

These can include antacids, H2 blockers, and proton pump inhibitors.

Learn more about treatment for acid reflux and GERD.

Experts typically recommend avoiding chocolate if you have acid reflux as it’s a common trigger for reflux symptoms.

But different people may have different acid reflux triggers and symptoms. Some people may be able to eat chocolate without symptoms.

If you have acid reflux and want to eat chocolate, you may choose to eat it in small amounts and see how your body responds. If chocolate is an acid reflux trigger for you, doctors may recommend avoiding it.

Frequent reflux symptoms can damage the esophagus and lead to .