Chocolate: the ayurvedic perspective

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Chocolate + ayurveda

Easter is coming! And so is my birthday… so I figured it’s time to get the lowdown on chocolate + ayurveda :) Coincidentally I am also going to Belgium… (Oops. Talk about putting the cat with the milk). Ahem.

First of all when talking about chocolate I exclude anything with less than 80% cacao (tough love here folks). Here’s why.

Dark, milk, white

The difference between dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate is in the cocoa solids content. The cocoa solids are the parts of the bean that have the antioxidants in it and is good for your health. White chocolate has no cocoa solids; milk chocolate has to have a minimum of 25% cocoa solids and dark chocolate has the most cocoa solids, up to 100% pure.

Milk chocolate and white chocolate especially consist mostly of white sugar. They also contain cocoa butter, milk solids, emulsifier, flavourings, artificial sweeteners and other ‘fillers’. Sometimes the cocoa butter is partly replaced by unhealthy and ecologically unfriendly palm oil or other cheap vegetable oil (I am looking at you, Mars & Snickers!).

From an ayurvedic (or any other) health food perspective, this is a no-go food. Milk solids, emulsifier, flavouring and artificial sweeteners have nothing to do with real food so it will aggravate all doshas, creating ama (toxins) in the body. The high sugar content will especially aggravate Kapha.

Raw cacao

Now for 80+% dark chocolate. Whatever number is left out of the 100% still is sugar or emulsifier so the higher the percentage the better. To get all the health benefits of cacao best is to have 100% raw cacao. It can be bought in nibs or powder form and you can use it in your own creations.

But still, from an ayurvedic perspective should you even have cacao? As always in ayurveda it depends on your type. Let’s look at the qualities of raw cacao and review the effects they have on each type…

Ayurvedic qualities of raw cacao

The qualities of raw cacao are:

  • taste (rasa): bitter
  • aftertaste (vipaka): pungent
  • other attributes: light, dry
  • energy (virya): hot
  • other effects: stimulant, hard to digest

Effects of cacao on your ayurvedic type

If you are Vata dominant

If you are Vata dominant I have bad news for you… The bitterness, lightness and dryness of chocolate will aggravate Vata. Chocolate is a stimulant – it contains caffeine – so it will likely upset the sensitive nervous system of Vata. Vata’s digestive system is irregular so too much chocolate may lead to nausea as well. If you are a Vata type, limit your use of cacao. (Yes, S., I was expecting your text.)

If you are Pitta dominant

While Pitta’s strong digestion has no problem taking on cacao, its energy will increase Pitta’s fire even more, leaving you more vulnerable to heartburn, skin rashes and inflammation. Pitta + caffeine is surely not a good idea either!

If you are Kapha dominant

The bitter taste and hot energy of cacao will balance Kapha, and its stimulating properties will counteract Kapha’s lethargy or laziness. It may be hard to digest for Kapha’s sluggish digestive system, so a little goes a long way.


So should you have cacao?

If you are Pitta or Vata dominant it depends how in or out of balance you are at the moment. If your body is in balance a little bit will be ok. If you have severe Pitta or Vata out-of-balance symptoms, I’d stay away for now.

And if you are Kapha? Yes you can. Especially if you are a Kapha dominant person you can have great benefits from eating cacao, but don’t eat the whole chocolate bar as that will undo all the benefits. And please leave the supermarket chocolate in the supermarket :)

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