cacao and gallbladder

Cacao and Gallbladder

Cacao, especially in its 100% form, is considered a rich source of many bioactive substances that have potential health benefits. The gallbladder is an important, albeit small, organ in our body. Let’s examine how 100% cacao affects the functioning of the gallbladder and what effects its consumption may have on individuals who have undergone a cholecystectomy, which is the surgical removal of the gallbladder.

What is 100% Cacao?

100% cacao is a product obtained from cacao beans. Unlike defatted cacao, 100% cacao contains all the natural fats. It is rich in flavonoids, theobromine, magnesium, and many other nutrients.

Functions of the gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small sac located under the liver that stores bile—a fluid produced by the liver to help digest fats. When we eat, the gallbladder contracts and releases bile into the duodenum, where it helps break down fats into smaller molecules that can then be further digested and absorbed.

The impact of 100% cacao on the gallbladder

Flavonoids present in cacao may influence the gallbladder’s ability to contract and secrete bile. Research suggests that flavonoids can stimulate bile secretion, which may be beneficial for fat digestion. However, people with gallstones should exercise caution, as excessive stimulation of the gallbladder can lead to gallbladder colic.

Furthermore, 100% cacao, being rich in fats, can stimulate the gallbladder to release bile to aid in the digestion of fats.

The impact of 100% cacao on the gallbladder

For people who have undergone cholecystectomy, the absence of a gallbladder means that bile is still produced by the liver but is released directly into the intestines in small amounts, irrespective of food consumption. Consuming fatty foods like 100% cacao may lead to indigestion, as there isn’t sufficient bile to digest large amounts of fat.

Tips for people consuming 100% cacao without a gallbladder

  • Start with small amounts and observe how your body reacts. If indigestion symptoms occur, limit intake.
  • Consider consuming cacao with other products that can assist in fat digestion, such as fiber-rich foods.
  • Consult a doctor or dietitian if you have doubts about incorporating 100% cacao into your diet after a cholecystectomy.

Our experience with individuals post-gallbladder removal

Over the years, we have observed that people who do not have a gallbladder need to consider this fact when dosing their intake of 100% cacao. It is good to start with small amounts and see how one feels after approximately 30-40 minutes. If discomfort occurs or if there is a need for frequent trips to the bathroom, this might indicate that cacao could be irritating. Such cases are rare but worth noting.

A good approach could be consuming cacao with a greater amount of hot water, i.e., reducing the proportion of cacao to water.

People drinking cacao who do not have a gallbladder have also reported to us that different varieties of cacao affect their digestive processes differently. The Arriba variety, which we offer in our store, has proven to be lighter and gentler on the digestive system compared to, for example, the Criollo variety, which is often perceived as more intense and “heavier” for digestion.

If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting with a doctor or dietitian.

We invite you to explore the offerings in our SHOP to discover the 100% cacao we offer 🙂

You can read more about the studies here: