Doctor's Note

For some of my previous videos on chocolate, see Healthiest Chocolate FixUpdate On Chocolate, and my last recipe video on the topic, Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes. For why I'm so skeptical of industry-sponsored studies, see Food Industry “Funding Effect” and my other 26 videos on industry influence. And if that's not enough, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

For more context, check out my associated blog posts:  Strawberries Can Reverse Cancer Progression and How Probiotics Affect Mental Health

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some of my previous videos on chocolate, see Healthiest Chocolate Fix, Update On Chocolate, and my last recipe video on the topic, Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes. For why I’m so skeptical of industry-sponsored studies, see Food Industry “Funding Effect” and my other 26 videos on industry influence. And if that’s not enough, there are hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand subjects.

    • HemoDynamic

      This I think has been well established that epicatechins (flavanoids from cocao) produce mild analgesia. I remember Neal Barnard presenting a study that showed they could stop people craving for chocolate (and cheese) if they used Naltrexone for blocking the opiod receptors. Here is a link for a study showing activation of the delta opiod receptor from epicatechins in chocolate:
      My question is in these people with Fibromyalgia if you keep feeding them chocolate does an adaptation mechanism take place and the patients have to keep increasing their cocao intake to provide the same pain relieving effect? Nestle would sure like that!

    • angie mcintosh

      I am wondering though if any of the beneficial effects of the high real cocoa powder group was because their product was free of the milk which was around 30 % of the fake chocolate. They didn’t control both types of chocolate for milk ingestion and the rich dark chocolate was dairy free. In some other studies I read about coffee, studies found that adding milk caused a further increase in blood sugars for longer than dairy-free caffeine free beverages. I wonder if somehow the dairy in the nonchocolate sample caused a negative effect on blood sugars which then translated in to more symptoms symptoms or if the improvement in the chocolate group was somehow related to the caffeine content of their chocolate. More questions than answers here!

  • HemoDynamic

    Love that Chocolate ice cream!!!

  • Thea

    I have an intense craving for this ice cream right now. Oh boy that looks good.

  • vegan2u

    Great, when you say no added sugar, are dates high in Fructose? Is this why they don’t affect blood sugar levels? I know the Erythritol has no issue but I personally don’t like man made sugars due to the feeling that they may fool my body initially but later I tend to crave the real stuff. Nutritionist Jeff Novick points out that if you look at the ingredients of Date powder, they seemingly don’t give you much nutrition as opposed to when you look at Unsulphered molasses label. I know you cite a study that a group of individuals had little effect on their blood sugar levels but was it because Dates are higher in Fructose?
    Here’s my humble recipe for a cocoa desert.
    2 Tbl’s of Hershey’s dark cocoa baking powder
    3/4 cup of frozen cranberries
    1 whole Indian Gooseberry fruit
    1 cup of soft Sprouted Tofu
    1 teaspoon of a pre-mixed cloves, cinnamon and Acerola powder
    3/4 cup of pre-soaked and dehydrated Pecans and 1/2 cup of raw Cashews for creaminess.
    1 cooked medium size purple sweet potato (Asian Market)
    1 teaspoon of Stevia Leaf
    I find that Stevia leaf has no Licorice aftertaste if you mix it with something that does have glucose like the Purple sweet potato….
    Makes about 4 servings

    • DanielFaster

      To answer your question, dates have more sugar than jelly beans, but a lot of fiber that keeps it from hitting your bloodstream so fast. Your recipe looks very good, kind of like a lot of mine. I have a question about the tofu in yours, however, since Toxins pointed out elsewhere that soy milk may block absorption of the phytonutrients.

  • Herb I. Vore

    Dr. Greger, you really need to publish a cookbook of all you excellent concoctions.

    Thank you.

  • paul3917

    I tried your “recipe” this morning. Except for the cocoa, I didn’t know how much of the other ingredients to use, so I had to guess. It came out tasting very bitter and was watery. I must have guessed wrong! How much of the other ingredients do you use? Thanks.

    • Toxins

      Mine turned out amazing, try this.
      5 dates
      3 tbsp. Cacao powder
      ¾ cup mix frozen berries.
      ½ tsp. vanilla extract
      2 tbsp. Unsweetened Almond Milk

      Mix all in blender and put in freezer. Wait an hour or until consistency of ice cream.

  • wickedchicken

    I just made the ice cream! Oh my god. I cannot believe how Tasty it is!!! I guesstimated too, used 2 big handfuls of frozen mixed berries, about 80 mls of coconut milk (from a carton, not the tinned kind), 1 tbsp cocoa, cap of vanilla essence and a decent sprinkle of stevia. Yeah i know. Theres no erythritol in Ireland. Anyway the ice cream was such a treat! And….. Super healthy????

    Ben and jerry, it’s over between us. It’s THIS kind if thing that will help me help others too! Keep em coming!

    I have a question. Any idea how much is too much cocoa? In my porridge (with cinnamon), shakes, protein pancakes… Fake Ice cream??? Too much?

  • VeganNutritionist

    I use frozen bananas as the stock for my ice cream. I add cherries, strawberries, bananas, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, or whatever else I desire. When I was little I said that I was going to eat ice cream everyday. Of course I was obese as an adult and I didn’t eat ice cream everyday, but now on a plant-based diet I do and I am healthier for it!

  • Deb

    Is it possible that the reason it fights chronic fatigue is because cocoa has caffeine?

    • Toxins

       The caffeine is extremely mild and is closely equivalent with decaffeinated coffee which is near negligible.

  • Mark

    I love this ice cream as well.  However, I have a question.  If this is made with soy milk, will it block the antioxidants from the cherries and cocoa?  In one of the videos, soy milk blocked antioxidants from tea.

    • Toxins

      Based on the study, one can safely assume that soy will indeed block the phytonutrients from the cacao and berries. I would suggest using almond milk.

      • DanielFaster

        Hi Toxins, would a silken tofu have the same effect? Lots of chocolate dessert recipes are based on this. Is there an applicable stoichiometry, couldn’t I just use more cacao powder?

        • Toxins

          I wish I had the answer to this question, but I do not. The only study presented was in vitro and I have no way of getting the full access to the article.

          • DanielFaster

            Could be a dairy industry plant to soil soy (again).

  • Ian Ridgeway

    Could it be that the caffene assisted the energy levels on the short term. Caffene and theobromines in chocolate are know to be very harmfull in the long term. I tsp of  cocoa powder contains 8 mg of caffeine and 106mg of theobromine.

    Theobromine and caffeine both are known to have problems, even suspected to cause birth defects

    I think the vested interest is showing in the  study. You can still use double blind cross over to show beneficial components and leave out the bad effects.

  • Karen A

    Brilliant! So, 2.5tbsp a day of cocoa powder = how much in other forms? Cacao nibs? Kinds of chocolate bar? I will not rush out and start eating any old chocolate treat – I need to find ways of working out proper portions of the actually healthy stuff, rather than making my poor ME/CFS system crash with fat and sugar. Where can I find out how to convert between forms of chocolate?

    • Toxins

       Typically, the dark chocolate bars you find at stores have most of the phytonutrients processed out. It would be best to consume non dutch processed cacao. Cacao nibs would work out just fine as this is a concentrated source of cacao powder. 2.5 tablespoons of cacao powder = approximately 1/3 of an ounce of cacao nibs.

      • albert

        Thanks for pointing out this important aspect. Do you know if there is any way to tell if it is (non) Dutch cacao by taste or anything like that (even home made chemical reaction) – there are no labels which is which in the place I live. (Cacao powder I buy now is pretty bitter, if that helps. I will try to search, yet still not sure it will be easy). Thanks anyway.

  • Jeffrey Allen Carvish

    I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Was diagnosed many years ago after having several major health problems at one time.  However, a year ago I embarked on my journey to be vegan and since then I have had very little issue with it.  I will admit I probably still eat more processed foods than I should and then maybe I would have no CFS at all.  We will definitely try this ice cream though.  Thanks Dr Greger for always posting fun and insightful information.

    • Charzie

      I know this is an older posting, but I just found it. I wanted to comment that since going WFPB, pretty “religiously”, because I was trying to get rid of diabetes, miraculously, the chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, IBS and a slew of other long standing issues disappeared too, including half my body weight! Yeah, I’m a fan!

  • Freepam

    This is good! I was surprised because I’ve tried using raw cacoa powder and stevia for brownies before and they were nasty. I think it’s the strawberries that make the difference. I couldn’t imagine eating that much every day though.

  • ToddGuthrie

    The control in this study had significant amounts of milk/whey, whereas the experimental did not. A confounding variable? Animal protein, immune trigger….

    • angie mcintosh

      Yes. I noticed that too…wonder if control group didn’t do well be cause they had alot of milk in their fake chocolate.

  • ToddGuthrie

    Not to mention more sugar.

  • tree

    have you any research on the link between candida and chronic fatigue syndrome?

  • Krista Kapalko

    Coffee can also reduce pain 30-40%

  • Chalk

    I actually discovered this on my own. Have had CFS for 13 years now and I found out that when I ate some chocolate, I had a much better day than if I didn’t. I’ve never been into fruit with chocolate, but I do like the powder in some sweetened almond milk. It’s especially good at hot chocolate in the winter, or with chia seeds for a nice pudding type dessert.

  • Carol

    I use a lactose-free, fat-free milk. Would that work for this ice cream

    • NutrFactsFan

      Fat-free is skim milk, and it has has been discussed on this site as being the form of milk with the highest hormones except for butter milk among skim 2% or full fat milk. This promotes cancer. Every nut, seed, and grain when blended with water will produce a plant based milk. Have you tried some of these? It is much better to avoid ingesting anything that isn’t plant based.

    • Gross Bro

      It would work… but the milk isn’t very good for you.

      Try almond milk. It’s about the same price of milk, but much, much safer.

  • Jakehay

    Aloha Dr. Greger,

    We have been enjoying your recipe for “chronic fatigue syndrom” i.e. blueberries, bananas, and organic raw cacao nibs. We were wondering if the cacao powder would be better than the nibs (lower fat) and that got us to researching cacao with Dr. McDougall’s site and Jeff Novick. Anyway, below is what Jeff Novick had to say about Cacao and we were wondering if you could respond. The link Jeff Novick gives in his response takes you to a longer response he gave about chocolate.

    I found this product at my local health food store. The title on the package is in the subject line of this post. The ingredients on the package says, organic raw cacao beans (nibs).

    A 1 ounce serving contains 13 grams of total fat, 8 grams saturated fat. The 1 ounce serving provides a daily requirement of 314% iron, 21% vitamin C and 24% magnesium. It also contains 20 times more antioxidants than red wine and 30 times more than green tea.

    I’ve also read studies that say chocolate has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure.

    Does the high fat and saturated fat content negate any of the potential nutritious benefits of this food?


    There is little if any benefit to either of these substance, neither of which I would call a “food” for humans.

    You can read some thorough discussions on chocolate and blood pressure here.

    In Health

    • Jean

      Jeff’s article talked mostly about chocolate not cocoa powder in the healthy way it is presented here. Even with the powder he looks at the fat content. 50% of 10 or 20 calories doesn’t amount to a hill of anything in my estimation. At the end he does present this….

      I once tried an experiment with some clients as they wanted to include some cocoa but did not want to use any sweeteners, natural or artificial. So, I mashed up a large banana (or 2), added in a TB (or 2) of pure cocoa powder, and mixed them together. Then I added in some fresh blueberries, and it was fairly good. Then, the next day, we did the same thing but this time topped it with some toasted oats (regular rolled oats we toasted) and then some cinnamon. This was also fairly good.

      Mary McDougall does have recipes using cocoa powder but she uses a non-fat cocoa powder. John isn’t against any sugar at all.

  • Rashmi Baya Cabena

    Dear Dr Greger,

    Just Regarding CFS/ME. I have seen the videos on this website but I unfortunately am not getting results despite a raw vegan diet . I was mainly having thoughts on how diets would help the gut dysbiosis, channelopathy, orthostatic intolerance , oxidative stress, immune dysregulation and other neuroendocrionological symptoms of this syndrome.
    This being such a complex subject, most molecular details are unanswered but I’d appreciate whatever information you can provide with a big big bow down Thank you.
    Btw, the kale seeds you sent have come out so very well. Thank you for those.

    Kind regards,

    Rashmi Cabena


    • Holly

      Hey Rashmi,

      I have been dealing with CFS for 22 years now. I have found the most benefit from both a vegan diet and doing a periodic anti candida diet. This involves using no sugars, yeast, mold/fungus, or anything else fermented. There are many online resources about it and books (look for The Yeast Connection). I find if I do that for 3 weeks once or twice a year I feel much better.

      Best of luck,


    • Maggie

      Please check out this Doc, I read his notes from a conference in which he spoke. It explained why the Swank diet (very low fat) works for MS, which had always puzzled me.

  • traumaland

    But it’s interesting to see if in long term their condition don’t get even worse….

  • Soultox

    What about Theo-Bromine ….. neuro-toxin from the Cocoa?

    • jonniefive

      Only neuro-toxic for dogs

  • BC

    I can’t consume any caffeine due to having pvcs. So no caffeine , chocolate or alcohol for me. Stops pvcs almost completely. How can I consume chocolate? I have cfs and can’t seem to get better no matter how clean my diet is.

  • rc

    cocoa powder and frozen bananas in blender also results in similar chocolate ice cream…though the berries would be healthier..

    tbsp of cocoa powder a day is quite a lot! gonna try it for a few days
    and see if it helps chase these winter blues away!

    Thanks Dr. Gregor – love the videos!

  • sophie

    Does this apply to ADRENAL fatigue? I’ve been reading that stimulants (coffee, coke, all caffeine actually) exhaust the adrenals and make you even more tired). Although cocoa doesn’t have THAT much caffeine, it is still a stimulant. Can someone please answer this? Thanks so much!

  • nathalie

    What about the phytates in chocolate??

  • Jane’s Addiction

    Hey Dr. Greger, could you post more on the subject of chronic fatigue syndrome? I’ve been suffering from it for over 5 years and I would be really grateful for anything I could learn about how to help myself get better. There’s so little in the way of reliable information out there about this crippling illness.

  • Maggie

    ITS often LYME Tests are grossly inaccurate

  • Wade Patton

    Just EAT IT! Yes love the frozen choco-smoothies. Methinks I’ll make one NOW!

    Such fun eating “decadent and delicious” with ZERO/NONE/NADDA guilt or reservations or limitations.

    I don’t know why “they” think it is so impossible.

  • Robert Hutchinson

    I’ll guess mold toxin.