Cacao is in the Malvaceae
family of plants which includes okra, cotton and durian fruits. Cocoa beans are the seeds of this tree which are used to make chocolate and cacao.
Cocoa is a food that is not considered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to contain any allergenic proteins, however there have been cases of cocoa allergies reported.
Most of the studies relating to cocoa allergy are from factory workers and chocolatiers who spend all of their time working with the product.
There is a 2S seed storage protein
in cocoa which is similar to those proteins found in tree nuts. Cocoa is a highly processed product which is why is not thought to be particularly cross reactive with other foods containing 2S seed storage proteins.
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine which may cause people to believe they are allergic to cocoa instead of reacting to the caffeine.
Cocoa butter is the fat from cocoa beans and is used to make white chocolate and cosmetics. There is less evidence that this is the component of chocolate which people are allergic to.
Cocoa allergy or intolerance has not been linked to any allergenic syndromes.
Other foods containing 2S seed storage proteins are peanuts, cashews, brazil nut, mustard, pecan, hazelnut, soya beans, walnut, pistachio, sesame and almonds.
Fruits and vegetables containing these proteins are kiwi, turnip, pumpkin and sichuan pepper.
2S seed storage proteins are also found in rapeseed, buckwheat, flaxseed, castor beans, mung bean, chickpea, sunflower seeds and pine nuts.
Science Direct - Theobroma cacao
Allergen Encyclopedia - Cacao
Allergy information for: Cocoa (Theobroma cacao)
Do I Have a Chocolate Allergy?
NY Allergy & Sinus Centers - Chocolate Allergy
Articles and Journals
Not so sweet: True chocolate and cocoa allergy, 2019
Cocoa Diet and Antibody Immune Response in Preclinical Studies, 2017
The effects of cocoa on the immune system, 2013
Respiratory function and immunological status in cocoa and flour processing workers, 1998
Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful.
If you spot an article or research that you think is interesting you can message me or tag me on Facebook or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.