Doctor's Note

Here’s a link to the videos I mentioned: Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes and A Treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

More on the corrupting effect of money in nutrition research in the next video in the queue, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Conflicts of Interest.

I’ve covered chocolate before, coming to basically the same conclusion:

What effects do other foods have on arterial function? See:

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  • Adrien

    Science is so good with us today :)

  • Rossman

    great video! I was wondering what’s your opinion on cacao nibs, or roasted cacao nibs . Do they have the same effect?

    • Dilip

      I was wondering about cacao as well. I thought that they had the benefits of the theobromine without the added fat or sugar or even vegan chocolate.

    • sara

      I wonder about that too. There was a point I ate a couple cacao beans a day because I thought it was good for me but I had been feeling terrible that whole month. I was trying to figure out what is was, then I stopped eating cacao and all my terrible symptoms went away. If I need to use cocoa powder in something, I’ve then switched to Carob. I think its a much better replacement. But I also wonder if it may have the same benefits

    • Claude Martin-Mondiere

      Cacao nibs have a maximum of anti-oxydant as raw. They are excellent in any addition. The inhibition of sugar and cow milk is significant.

  • tbatts666

    That chocolate ice “cream” is so good..

  • yardplanter

    Admittedly without going back to the original data… and not wanting to appear “Lustig-like”… is it the fructose and/or glucose that does the mentioned damage to arteries ? The term “sugar” used throughout the video is not sufficiently specific.

    • guest

      Yes, great question. Let’s hope someone contributes, and this presents a massive question mark without a precise answer on the sugar….fructose….or glucose.

    • norma

      Just try to buy the pure cocoa, you can find in Health stores.This way you know there is no sugar added.

    • Michael Gmirkin

      Yes, I had a similar question…

      Wonder if anyone has studied endothelial function and/or flow-mediated dilation (FMD) with respect to whether there is any difference between being given strictly glucose or strictly fructose. I suspect fructose, given it gets converted directly to circulating fatty acids by the liver. And if one reads Esselstyn, fatty meals themselves may also impair endothelial function. So, I wonder if, as Lustig et al imply, fructose effectively doubles as fat in the blood, hence similar effect to eating a fatty meal on FMD / endothelial function…

      • Michael Gmirkin

        One wonders, if fructose is involved, whether perhaps uric acid is also involved…

        Seems uric acid may play a role in inhibiting endothelial function and/or nitric oxide production.

        http://www.nature.com/ki/journal/v67/n5/full/4495239a.html

        And one of the byproducts of fructose metabolism is uric acid… So, it may well be that fructose metabolism does in fact contribute to endothelial dysfuction via uric acid production?

        For more on fructose metabolism & uric acid production see Richard Johnson “The Sugar Fix.” He points out that uric acid is produced through fructose metabolism and that it may contribute to gout, among other things. If uric acid plays a role in endothelial dysfunction then maybe in heart disease / atherosclerosis, too?

        http://www.amazon.com/Sugar-Fix-High-Fructose-Fallout-Making/dp/1439101671/

  • Laloofah

    Here are two more of our favorite chocolate recipes, both using dates as their main or only sweetener, for my fellow (organic, free trade) dark chocolate lovers: Super Seed Chocolate Protein Bites (add 1/4 tsp of cayenne for a little extra antioxidant kick) and Raw Brownies (neither the name nor the picture do these super-rich bad boys justice. I use 3 TBSP maple syrup as the sweetener in the frosting). Enjoy!

    • Thule

      Thank you, those two recipes looks wonderful (I could eat chocolate always, it’s my favourite food) :)

      So I was left browsing for a bit the vegan blog, a lot of good dessert recipes, unfortunately I saw that the use of coconut oil and full fat coconut milk is still all the rage among…. *healthy* eaters.

      I guess more info is needed, there is a lot of conflicting information that made all these people sure that they are eating extremely healthy fats. :S

      And they are clogging their arteries pretty much as if they were taking butter and full cream. I don’t know how we can send the message across.

      And it is not only among vegans, the craze got
      the omnivores long ago, every time I check — I see coconut oil as number one best selling grocery item in amazon uk:

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/grocery/ref=pd_dp_ts_grocery_1

      (Not everyone uses it as food, but the overwhelming majority do)

      • Laloofah

        I hope you enjoy them, Thule – it sounds like you will! :-)

        We don’t cook or bake with added fats beyond those found in our whole foods, so I agree with you. (We enjoy a lot of recipes from Susan Voison’s <a href="http://blog.fatfreevegan.comFatFree Vegan Kitchen blog, it’s one you might like if you aren’t familiar with it). I see that coconut oil craze everywhere too. Dr. Greger has a couple of videos about its unhealthy effects – but you’ve probably seen them. :-)

  • bruxe

    These studies are so interesting. I try to listen to as many as I can, but it’s hard to know what to make of this information?

    Why nature wants us to eat fruit, it packs it in a nice sweet juicy package, and yet somehow with chocolate, cocoa, it is awful. It is bitter, and hard to get to the point of cocoa powder to begin with. I just think somehow if we were supposed to eat things like this they were either be sweet or we would be genetically prone to like their taste.

    So then, why do we LOVE the taste of chocolate, or even milk chocolate? Coffee is another one. I have to wonder if these discussions are a vestige of the ancient system that got people to buy these rare extracts to begin with when they were very valuable commodities and had to be carted all around the world. A mystique must have developed around them and people tend to work off that to justify it or make it seem like the thing to do in order to boost the price and volume.

    I’m also curious about the artery dilating effects of stuff … we hear that cocoa helps open the arteries … but for how long? Why do we care?

    Don’t mean to be flippant, but of what use is it to use “permanently” that our arteries can be opened by eating something, and for how long does this effect last? Do we need to constantly eat cocoa powder to maintain healthy arteries … should we be using cocoa as a medicine, given 4 times a day?

    This is what I mean … I don’t understand the real point of these studies except just to say as an of interest, cocoa opens your arteries for a certain period of time. Why is that notable, what does it mean for my overall health. It makes me feel sometimes like we are just being marketed too constantly by every aspect of everything?

    • Quest

      Just another case of teasers that just bring up more ?’s.

      • bruxe

        I’m good at that … wish I could get a job where I get paid by the questions I bring up! ;-)

    • JoAnn Ivey

      Chocolate, caffeine, sugar, heroin, alcohol – THAT’s why we love chocolate. It’s addictive. Hits the pleasure center of the brain. A little dopamine?

      • bruxe

        I am not sure I love chocolate for any chemical properties … I would not eat it at all if it was only available as cocoa powder … I just like the taste. Does that mean anything I like hits my pleasure center of the brain as is addictive?

        • Michael Gmirkin

          You wouldn’t eat just the powder ’cause the powder hasn’t added sugar or milk, both of which dope up your brain with pleasure chemicals. Seriously, look up Lustig (Sugar: the Bitter Truth), Neal Barnard, Richard Johnson (The Sugar Fix), etc.

    • guest

      I could not have said it better. And raw fruit and vegetables have been known to have the same positive effect that chocolate has on opening arteries.

      As an aside, chocolate has a host of anti-nutrients to go along with it.

    • Thule

      bruxe take a look at this, is related:

      http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cocoa-good-chocolate-bad/

    • albert

      Well, this can be pretty practical if you ask me. Improved blood flow even for a few hours might mean better physical/mental/sexual performance depending on where the “arterial bottle neck” is. Regular (and spread throughout the day – cocoa in the am, greens for lunch, walnuts in the pm etc) consumption of endothelium-friendly food might mean a dramatic difference in overall arterial condition of any person, even relatively healthy one.
      Regarding bitterness, it’s kind of usual for humans to get hooked on stuff which isn’t so nice at the first try, but then seduces the brain via some pleasure reward loop – tobacco, chili pepper, garlic, horror movies… :) I share the concern that if smth is not momentarily enjoyable it can be bad for us, yet these 3 stimulant drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa) do have a pretty substantial body of evidence concerning brain health and deserve the best of attention (and perhaps at least moderate consumption) at least for the promise of lesser chances to get Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
      (

    • b00mer

      Lol! I know why I drink coffee and it’s not for the mystique ;) For someone who doesn’t drink it very often, the effect is like a very mild dose of cocaine with some prozac while listening to a motivational speach set to a Beach Boys soundtrack.

      I think the beauty of these studies is that being modern humans, our bodies are conveniently set up to receive medicine 4x daily: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Studies like this remind us we have the choice to continually expose ourselves to either medicinal foods or those that are either useless or harmful. You don’t have to consume every “superfood” at every meal, but if you have to eat something, isn’t it useful to know that certain foods are therapeutic? If you’re going to eat anyway, you might as well eat something that makes your arteries say ahhhh.

    • Michael Gmirkin

      We like chocolate because it has sugar in it. Also, milk chocolate because it has sugar AND milk protein (casein), which may convert into casomorphins (essentially an opiate, albeit in small quantities). Thus we get a small high and we get addicted to the “good feeling.” Not sure if the natural caffeine adds to the effect or not? Dunno…

      I think it was Neal Barnard who talked about this? Why we’re addicted to meat, cheese, dairy, sugar, etc.

  • Thanks as always for the information Dr. Greger. I myself add a heaping tablespoon of cacao nibs to my morning smoothie: 1/2 pound kale, 1 cup frozen berries, 2 bananas, 2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds, and 3 cups water.

  • Sebastian Tristan

    Caveat: Soy milk acts like cow milk in suppressing the antioxidant activity of chocolate/cocoa. We currently mix our cocoa powder with almond milk. Hopefully, this is fine seeing as we have no data on this yet.

    • Might be the calcium which binds with the phytonutrients. The Doc has a video on that, doesn’t he?

    • Jean

      Did not know that about soy milk. Where do you find out info like this? What else should I not be mixing the soy milk with?

  • jackson

    What about theobromine in cocoa? Isn’t that a mild stimulant and slightly additive? I would think there are healthier foods to aid in arterial function.

    • Jean

      Health Benefits of TheobromineTheobromine has a similar effect than caffeine, but about 10 times weaker. Theobromine has diuretic, stimulant and relaxing effects. Theobromine can lower the blood pressure because it can to dilate blood vessels.
      Theobromine has stimulant properties, similar to caffeine. Unlike caffeine theobromine does not affect the central nervous system.
      Theobromine can also relax bronchi muscles in the lungs. Theobromine can be used as cough medicine. Studies indicate that theobromine acts on the vagus nerve, which runs from the lungs to the brain. http://www.phytochemicals.info/phytochemicals/theobromine.php Have read that over 1000mg per day for humans is the upper limit.

    • patipnuts

      I actually discovered that dark choco, devoid of soy and dairy, helps my mild asthma. I don’t need to take Theophylline (theobromine messed with by Big Pharma). I have told several other fellow-asthmatics and they are also enjoying their “medicine” now.

  • jackson

    I meant to say addictive

  • Cathy

    Dr. Greger! Another great video, thanks! My husband has atherosclerosis & our diet is no-oil & plant-based. Would using erythritol or xylitol instead of date sugar be preferable and do you have an tempting brownie recipe for us all? Many thanks!

  • Steveooooo

    I always thought that chocolate was classed as a neurotoxin…

    • Ben

      It’s a neurotoxin for dogs.

      • Jean

        Domestic animals metabolize theobromine much more slowly than humans and can easily consume enough chocolate to cause chocolate poisoning. The toxic dose for cats is even lower than for dogs. However, cats are less prone to eating chocolate

  • Maharg

    I usually have a teaspoon of raw cacao powder with my coffee or hibiscus tea in the morning but I’d like Dr Gregors input on this study about the correlation between theobromine and testicular cancer and disorders. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2672359/

  • Darryl

    About sugar and CVD, this 2014 study remarkably showed that increasing intake of added sugars by just 4% of calories (2 ½ Tbsp, or 8 oz. of soda in a 2000 Cal diet) was associated with statistically significant increases in cardiac mortality, even after a host of adjustments for other lifestyle habits. The 10% of the population that consumed the most added sugar (> 25% E) had twice the risk of those consuming < 10%.

    How do the Kuna Indians of Panama get all the benefits of cocoa flavonols without the saturated fats and added sugars? They start with raw cocoa (that hasn’t been treated with alkali or roasted), grind and boil it with banana, then pass it through a strainer (which removes the cocoa & banana solids and most of the saturated fat).

    • Coacervate

      are there any acceptable sweetners, as in not toxic? Stevia? xyletol….or do you just au natureal?

      • Darryl

        Dr. Greger likes erethritol.

        I like the amino acid glycine, for other reasons, but use so little (4 g=1 tsp in my evening hibiscus tea) that the higher cost isn’t an issue.

        • Ben

          I looked up glycine bulk powder on amazon, it seems it’s made in China, which worries me. The company says they “triple test it” but I have a hard time taking their word for it. Because the industry is unregulated they can get away with saying they test it and it could still have heavy metals in it. I would like to try it and see if it improves sleep like everyone is saying it does.

          • Darryl

            Some is U.S. produced (1, 2), and the USP grade that accounts for 85% of the market is subject to testing for metals etc. and used in human foods. Mine comes from a supplement brand well regarded at ConsumerLab, and isn’t the absolute cheapest. Overall, its wise to be wary of supplement claims. I take some but will readily admit I’m conducting an n=1 experiment and can do the literature searches for adverse reports.

          • Ben

            Thanks, Darryl! I am going to get the same supplement.

          • Ben

            I found one on amazon that is USP & FCC Pharmaceutical Grade. I think it might be the same one you have. It’s made by Dual Health.

      • Sidney

        I use monk fruit (the real kind, not the fake ones with just a tiny bit of monk fruit and a ton of sugar). I just started using monk fruit; I bought it from amazon from a farm in Indiana (never trust anything from China).

      • Arjan den Hollander.

        I use zante currants as sweetner.
        Loaded with fructose for the sweetness, healthy despite the sugars.

    • Bach

      Wonder if excess dried-fruit (and some other high sugar fruits) could increase cardiac mortality as well?

      • Arjan den Hollander.

        I’d focus more on guaranteeing your magnesium intake.
        Pepita or pumpkin seeds do the trick together with greens.

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Our bodies run on sugar, its sitting on your butt eating sugar while lining your bloodvessels with fat what is the problem.

      The indians do a lot of walking compared to TV junkies.
      That makes cells pull the circulating nutrients from your blood, clearing it up.

      Those indian will not be in the habit of throwing away free energy btw. That fat will most certainly be consumed one way or the other.

      • Darryl

        Even Dr. Lustig notes the adverse effects of high-fructose diets occur when livers are glycogen replete (ie, in sedentary individuals). However, that represents a lot of us. Earn your sugar.

        With respect to the San Blas Islands dwelling Kuna, who don’t develop hypertension as their urban dwelling relatives do, the one study assessing their overall diet found it to be high in magnesium, potassium, and relatively low in fat (which should help), but also high in cholesterol and sodium (which shouldn’t), which lead to the interest in cocoa and how they drink it. Their traditional cocoa drinks are indeed fairly high in sugars (7-10%), but very low in the palmitic and stearic fats that dominate cocoa (0.1-0.4%), so presumably most is strained out with the cocoa and banana (or corn) solids. The 1 ½ hours they spend boiling the mixtures would provide a lot of time to earn our sugar.

        • Arjan den Hollander.

          While gaining weight from end november till now my chronic but never treated hypertention (160-120 fat – 140 – 100 lean) dropped to 110 – 70 a month ago. A very tiny dose of clonedine 0.25ugr for PTSD/ADHD dropped that ten points more 100 – 60 to a level I couldn’t go to the gym with anymore without feeling faint almost immediately.

          In any case a WFPB diet caused a 30 point drop in half a year while still eating canned corn, beans and beets together with 100 grams easy of salted peanuts. (For taste and Palmitoylethanolamide anti IC like pain trial which started to drive me nuts past few years. Peanuts being the cheapest source). And a occational bag of tortilla chips.

          Still a pretty hefty salt load by any calculation.
          Cannot come to any other conclusion high BP is mostly caused by something else than salt.

          I’ve been on a war on arteroscleroses ever since December and its pretty clear that endothelial function is being restored in a pretty dramatic way.

          I consume pretty hefty fructose loads to I might add. Fruit covering a third easy of what I consume on a day. Apple, orange, lemon, banana, kiwi, sugared cranberries , currants and frozen fruits daily.

          • Steve

            Consumerlab just reported that with only one exception all cocoa powder tested had cadmium and lead contamination exceeding toxic levels. What’s a healthy vegan to do?

    • Brenda

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. Dr. Esselstyn has been commenting about sugar but didn’t define in what forms – outside the processed. This is the first time I saw the study referred to.

  • Mike Cameron

    Would you get the same effect from using carob powder instead?

    • Thule

      No, aren’t related.

  • Crama

    I’m sorry to bother everyone, but I can’t find the link for the good doctor’s healthy chocolate ice cream video. Help please?

    • KWD

      Not sure if this one is what you were thinking of….doesn’t mention ice cream…but it does have chocolate smoothie and pudding (with frozen cherries) – which you could probably freeze to an ice cream. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/healthy-chocolate-milkshakes/ Going to try this myself!

      • Crama

        When you click on the above link to bring up the transcript of his video, the last sentence says:

        “And you can make them tasty as I note in my healthy chocolate milkshake recipe, and my healthy chocolate ice cream video.”

        That’s the chocolate ice cream video I was asking about. I can’t find it anywhere. Your link brings me to his “healthy chocolate milkshake recipe, but it’s a head scratcher as to where the ice cream video is.

      • mike at the river

        What other foods are good for endothelial function. and hypertension? Already on a low fat, whole food plant based diet (WFPB). Due to acid reflux, L.P.R. or silent reflux, am trying to avoid chocolate and coffee. According to Dr Koufan (“Dropping Acid, the reflux diet”), chocolate causes more reflux than any other food. Triple whammy: contains caffeine and theobromine, which relaxed the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), high in fat which also causes reflux, and high in cocoa which causes reflux.

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      cocao powder with frozen fruit for the sweetness.
      No more no less. The more you eat the healthier ^^

    • Ben

      Here it is: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-treatment-for-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/

      Toxins recipe:
      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.

      • Crama

        Ben, yup, looks like this is it! Thanks so much.

        You could probably take the almond milk and freeze it as an almond milk cube, and use that in the blend mix, thereby not needing to put the mix in the freezer.

      • Mmmeat

        I tried this without the berries and with homemade almond ‘milk’. Surprisingly it was ok – actually edible. I used 3/4 cup of almonds to approx 1 and 1/2 cups of water. After blending the ingredients the mixture was strained and heated to boiling, thus enabling the mixture to thicken. The texture of the final product could be improved with the addition of gums/starches (agar, LBG/xanthan gum, arrowroot starch maybe even oatmeal or brown rice flour etc etc).

    • Crama

      Thank you to everyone who helped me out here.

      We do currently freeze whole bananas in the peel. After frozen, we take them out of the freezer and drop them in hot tap water for about 45 seconds to a minute. Then the peels come off like a glove. Into the Vitamix blender they go. Sometimes adding some nuts or other frozen fruit, and sometimes roasted carob powder.

      But, now that I know how healthy the raw chocolate is, we’ll be using that, especially since my wife is a true chocolate addict.

      • Thea

        Crama: I learned a trick from you. I’ve frozen ripe bananas before, but never in the skin. I’m guessing that you do it in the skin to prevent discoloration? Neat trick.

        • Crama

          I’ll tell you how it happened. We used to peel the bananas, place them on a cookie sheet and freeze them; then after freezing, put them in a ziploc bag. One day I was either in a hurry or lazy, and just stuck them in the freezer. When I went to use them, I said to myself, how am I going to get the skin off? The bowel of hot water was the only solution. And, we’ve been doing it that way ever since.

          Basically, what you’re doing is melting or thawing the banana just under the skin, maybe around a 1/16 inch or less in from the underside of the skin. Then, the softened banana acts like a lubricant to aid in the removal of the skin. It takes only seconds to remove.

          The skin does seem to protect the banana better than just a plastic bag, with no discoloration, or freezer burn.

          Of course, if you freeze really ripe bananas, then they will be darker. But the freezing won’t darken them anymore than from when you put them in.

    • Adrien
  • veg4life

    What do you make of the recent reports about cadmium in cocoa powder? http://www.naturalnews.com/045545_cacao_powder_cadmium_lab_testing_results.html#ixzz35qYJhFrZ

    • KWD

      Here’s a recent video from Dr. Greger on cadmium in plant food http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cadmium-and-cancer-plant-vs-animal-foods/

      There is some discussion in the comments about cacao – it’s not specifically addressed in the video but it is a plant food. The link you posted suggests that cacao nibs have lower levels of cadmium. I recall reading that CL report when they published it in May and being disappointed because they didn’t test cacao nibs but there were a few supplements / powders on the list that CL tested below threshold for cadmium, arsenic and lead.

    • Arjan den Hollander.
    • bruxe

      Cadmium, or Cadbury? ;-)

  • Dave

    A little cocco in my beet juice doping to a new level

  • Ginger C

    Thanks for this…going to try your chocolate ice cream. I must…doctor’s orders…

  • Yaaaayyy!

  • We love cocoa!

  • Sidney

    Another great video. Once I went vegan and gluten free the last three months I have gotten so many great benefits. I was able to cure my hashimoto’s and finally started losing weight. Haven’t felt this good in a long time. Life is a lot simpler too since I don’t waste much time in the kitchen. Breakfast and lunch are green smoothies and dinner is beans+rice. I tell everyone I know to watch Dr. Greger’s videos!

    • Veganrunner

      I am so curious about your thyroid issue. Were you on Synthroid and then didn’t need it anymore after your diet changes? I am vegan and gluten free also and we are having a hard time finding the right dose. My thyroid medication has been cut in half over the last 18 months.

      • Sidney

        Yes, I was on 50 mcg synthroid, Then cut it down to 25 mcg. Finally went off it completely. Was never sure I even had Hashi’s. My doc just said I did without running labs after my TSH was high (around 6). I ran labs on my own over a period of months; I didn’t even have antibodies present, but I had high reverse T3. I highly recommend reading Izabella Wentz’s book on Hashimoto’s. It helped me a lot in terms of supplements to take.

        • Veganrunner

          I find it all so interesting. I have been on Synthroid for many years (18) and I was on 200 mcg which is a lot for someone my size. My TSH was originally 750 so I had all the symptoms of hair loss etc. It happens after childbirth sometimes. (750 is correct-not 7)

          Anyhow what I find so interesting is that since becoming vegan 2 years ago my medication has reduced to 120 mcg. I wonder how low the medication will go. It takes so long for the levels to adjust that the process is crazy. It goes on and on!

          I try and stay away from supplements. I do best with a WFPB diet. (yes on B12)

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Same here. I must have shared this site with 40 – 50 people already. And I’ll make the time to tell them of a lot about it and its content immediately if they want to hear it.

      Even today a nice lady commented on my healthy lineup of foods.
      The first time in a month I bought steak a vegetarian commends me on my choice of food :) I gave her the site details immediately.

      Keep up the crusade Dr. Greger, the world needs you!

  • Han

    Let me occasionally add a teaspoon of cacao to my banana smoothies.

  • Gouri Kayal

    What about raw cacao powder with soy? Are the benefits still negated like with tea and soy milk?

  • Dawn

    Dr. G, Do you have any concerns about cadmium, lead or other heavy metals found in certain Cocoa products? Consumer Lab released test results for cacao products. Navitas Natural (organic) Cacao Powder, and NOW Certified Organic Cacao Powder both failed because of cadmium contamination [1]. Both contained amounts around three times higher than the limit suggested by WHO. I tossed my tossed Navitas cacao nibs.

    Another study cited lead in chocolate as a particular concern for children: Talanta. 2014 Feb 15;119:1-4. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2013.10.048. Epub2013 Oct 28. Trace elements in cocoa solids and chocolate: an ICPMS study.
    Yanus RL1, Sela H2, Borojovich EJ2, Zakon Y3, Saphier M2, Nikolski A2,
    Gutflais E2, Lorber A2, Karpas Z2.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this topic. I’ve switched to Carob until you green light Cocoa for me again.

  • Arjan den Hollander.

    There is one point I’d like to mention on cocoa.
    It can help further disrupt unbalanced brain chemistry.

    It was one of the first health foods I started with in november.

    Now I’ve always been a manic depressive type but massive doses of cocoa combined with a quite moderate dose of dex-amfetamine for my ADHD plus the pure enthusiasm of all the interesting info on this site combined to pure and uncontrollable manic behaviour.

    Cause me to pour my heart out out on a dutch vegan forum in a way I haven’t experienced before in my life appart from maybe the times I took extacy in my late teens early twenties.

    This manic episode died off after stopping cocoa december 15th then started using it with my coffee again 2 weeks later and back was the manic drive.

    This might be something to watch out for. Being manic feels nice sure enough but it comes at great cost through loss off inhibition or the burden off depression one needs to suffer after.

    I sure for one would like to see my posts deleted thats for sure. (the price of inhibition loss). In the end I got kicked and can’t logg in there anymore. Guess I’ll have to live with it.

    Regards.

    • Thea

      Arjan: I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. I can imagine how frustrating the whole situation is. On the plus side, you figured out a trigger. That’s great. Good luck.

      • Arjan den Hollander.

        Plant foods are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get!

        ;)

    • Veganrunner

      Arjan this is a great post! I got a little chuckle. It’s funny but I find when I put green tea leaves in my smoothies I get this nice energy that is just perfect! And it lasts longer than coffee.

      • Arjan den Hollander.

        Thanks!

        When I cook my oats/quinoa/fenugreek/sweet potatoe starch base for later mixing with frozen fruits, i’ll add any cold mixed white tea/lemon water if I haven’t consumed it within two days. Nice and fresh, good for breakfast.

        White tea soaked for a day cold is a bad thing to drink before bed seems stronger than coffee on top of longer effect like you mentioned. Maybe 2.5 gr per Liter is to much ^^

        Doing this almost vegan stuff with the renewed energy comes with crippling insomnia lately. Have slept maybe 4 hours average for the past 6 weeks or so. Its really getting insufferable. Suffered actual sports injuries through nervous system exhaustion and less than optimal muscle control. Really annoying!

        • Veganrunner

          No I don’t but I will tell you that the longer you are eating a WFPB diet the more changes you will notice. Sleeping problems are one of those very annoying things.

  • Nadine

    On a different topic…Walter Willet of Harvard is now saying that eating fruit and veg does not reduce cancer and diet plays less of a role in cancer prevention than previously thought. What is your take on this Dr Greger?

  • Shaikailash

    I am a bit confused, sorry. It’s crystal clear that pure cocoa is the best, fine. But what about dark chocolate? In this video some of the studies shown were using cocoa/dark chocolate, but we don’t know the different effect of the two. What if we eat 80% or more dark chocolate? It should be almost like pure cocoa, since this is 90% or so.

    I mean, we can introduce cocoa easily in the breakfast for example, or for a snakc when we are at home., but it’s even easier to advice people to consume dark chocolate (maybe with some nuts…), since this can be eaten alone, and do not require other things.

    And what about mixing cocoa with soymilk? Shouldn’t this also inhibit the antioxidant ability of cocoa?

    • Arjan den Hollander.

      Why would soy milk deplete antioxidants?

  • b

    Anyone seen this? I was doing some research and came across it. I’m wading through it but of course it contradicts everything so it’s highly suspect but I can’t offhandedly dismiss it yet. Any comments, insights appreciated.

    http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0088278&representation=PDF

    • largelytrue

      In the authors’ own words, you are making mountains out of molehills:

      “Potential limitations of our results are due to the fact that the
      survey was based on cross-sectional data. Therefore, no statements can be made whether the poorer health in vegetarians in our study is caused by their dietary habit or if they consume this form of diet due to their poorer health status.”

      If you look at some of the health outcomes which they link with the vegetarian group in this particular context (Austria), you see some likely channels of self-selection which can imply poor health: allergies, cancer, and suspicion of vaccinations.

  • Tan

    Great news about cocoa. Give us the pure cocoa chocolate please. The mainstream chocolates are awful, contaminated with dairy and artificial. There’s no need for the latter at all; pure is better in every way.

    • Timar

      It is really that hard to find decent chocolate in the US?

      I’m quite a dark chocolate afficionado and as it is very popular in Germany, there are a lot of brands to choose from which have 70-100% cocoa. I always look at the ingredient list and the only thing that’s occasionally there which IMO doesn’t belong into a dark chocolate is butter fat. Most brands though have only soy lecithin and/or vanillin added. The premium brands have only real vanilla extract added, if anything. So even as a purist or vegan it is easy to find a decent dark chocolate here, no need to complain :)

      By the way I don’t think that the saturated fat in dark chocolate is much of an issue (if you don’t eat it by the pound), because cocoa butter is mostly 18:0 stearic acid, which is the most benign of all long-chain saturated fatty acids as most of it is actually metabolized to 18:1 oleic acid by desaturase enzymes.

  • Gross Bro

    Just throw a teaspoon in with your morning green shake!

  • Neil

    What about the cadmium levels in cacao powder, which seem to be consistently high, according to recent, independent tests across various brands?

    http://www.naturalnews.com/045545_cacao_powder_cadmium_lab_testing_results.html

  • Caio

    where can i find the estastics?

  • Claude Martin-Mondiere

    Jeanne Calment ate nearly one kilogram (2.2 lb) of chocolate every week. The French paradox may be in the dark chocolate and the different way the French use it

  • Lainna

    Did he say how long the antioxidant spike in the blood lasts?

  • Suzanne

    May I plz have the “recipe” for the choc milkshake. I can’t cook, bake, etc, w/o exact amts. Thx

  • Cocoa User

    Many anti chocolate sites warn about the insect parts and rodent droppings and hairs contained in the cocoa powder/chocolate. There is a site that says that this is myth except for in really cheap stuff. Be interesting to know if this is so and if it applies to any popular brands?

  • 7in1

    Yea, chokko (cacao ) is all good only dogs die shortly after consuming it! Same can happen to a toddler if portion is oversized. Theobromine inside choko and cacao is a strong narcotic substance with neurotoxic properties.

  • Jeremiah

    Hey Dr. Greger,

    I have noticed you have never done a video on cacoa NIBS. Supposedly it is the best, being absent of sugar and virtually raw…with the exception of it retaining it fat. Any thoughts?

  • Francis

    Hi, i like to eat fermented, raw cocoa beans. Is it good for me or is there too much saturated fat?

  • Tobias Brown

    Is lead reportedly found in chocolate products a legitimate health concern? Simply Google chocolate lead danger for reports. Is powdered cocoa less risky? Why do they call it cacao vs cocoa, and in Quebec the English name is Cocoa while the French name is cacao. I guess the cocoa is more refined.

  • Michael Gmirkin

    Interesting that sugar impairs endothelial function. Doesn’t the BART test also show that fatty meals impair arterial function?

    I wonder, in the case of sugar, do we know WHY endothelial function or flow-mediated dilation (FMD) is impaired? Do we yet know the specific mechanism by which such impairment occurs? Either via fatty food or sugary foods?

    Also, you say “sugar” but don’t specify what KIND of sugar… Are you talking, HFCS (broken up glucose/fructose in solution), sucrose (bound glucose/fructose; though it gets broken up in digestion), glucose or fructose?

    Do we know whether the “sugar endothelial/FMD impairment” happens if the individual is fed *STRICTLY glucose* or *STRICTLY fructose* (to see if one or the other is a culprit on its own; I lightly suspect fructose, possibly via being converted to fatty acids/triglycerides, mimicking fatty meals)?

    I guess I’m wondering if certain grain-based or oat-based “milks” [preferably without added oils] would similarly [to “sugar,” if one means sucrose] negate the benefits of cocoa powder or whether they’d be okay to use with cocoa powder like unsweetened soy milk is (given that grain or oat based milks are probably starch / glucose based and low in or free from fructose). Under the theory that maybe fructose is a culprit and thus using an un-sweetened, un-oiled glucose-based milk (made from grains or oats) would be okay, given there was no fructose added.

    Don’t know if anyone’s tunneled down to that level of detail yet? But I’d be itnerested to know the results if anyone ever does…

  • newsjunkie

    Great video! and very funny, too!

  • Stephen Lucker Kelly

    I just started looking at the saturated fat in all food, mostly to keep it low. Hot Chocolate or just plain Chocolate Powder is very high in saturated fat.

    As you said in the past saturated fat is bad, and it’s easy to eat a lot of saturated fat with chocolate powders. Is this all Chocolate Powder?
    I am pretty sure that most chocolate powder is bad for ones health now or am I missing something?

    • Thea

      Stephen, Prior to seeing your post, I understood that unsweetened cocoa powder could be thought of as dried cocoa beans with most of the fat removed. However, I decided to do some research before I commented and saw from the link below that cocoa powder has 7 grams saturated fat! What?!?!
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/5471/2

      But then I noticed that the default serving size is 1 cup. No one eats 1 cup of cocoa powder in a serving, or in a day. Note that you can change the serving size. I think a more practical amount for a serving of unsweatened cocoa powder is 1 tablespoon. And at one 1 tablespoon, there is so little saturated fat, that the amount shows up as zero. And as Dr. Greger explains in the video above, it doesn’t take much to get a lot of benefit from cocoa powder: about 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon depending on which type you are eating.

      Getting back to topic of the amount of saturated fat in cocoa powder, I think it is helpful to compare to the amount of saturated fat in a really good quality, high cocoa content dark chocolate. So, I looked here:
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2
      And set the serving size to 1 ounce. An ounce is about 2 tablespoons. Which means that 1 tablespoon of actual chocolate (as opposed to cocoa powder) is about 3.5 grams saturated fat. This seems to support my original understanding that cocoa powder is cocoa beans with most of the fat removed (though not fully as much as I had thought, dang it).

      To give you one more idea for perspective: Dr. Greger does say to stay away from saturated fats, and rightly so. The science supports that advice in general. However, there does appear to be some exceptions. For example, Dr. Greger does support eating nuts, including walnuts. Walnuts according to the following link contain 1 gram saturated fat per ounce. And Dr. Greger would recommend even 2 ounces nuts and seeds per day. So, even if cocoa powder had 0.5 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon, you would be getting less than if you ate the nuts.
      http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3137/2

      Here’s how I put it all together in my head: It helps to think about individual components in food sometimes, but worrying just about saturated fat without considering the whole food is a mistake. The science seems to strongly support eating 1-2 ounces of nuts and maybe a 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder per day. So, even if it makes sense to be concerned about and monitor saturated fat in general, it doesn’t make sense to avoid foods that have been well proven/supported by the evidence to be healthy.

      Hope that helps.

  • raybo

    Consumerlabs.org (membership requied) has been testing cocoa and chocolate bars for the past year and have found that most of cocoas and all of the chocolate bars test positive for Cadmium and Lead. Can Dr. Greger shed any light on this?

    • Joseph Gonzales R.D.

      Yes! Consumer Labs did extensive cocoa testing and indeed found problems with cadmium, lead or both. They continue to test brands. As soon as they come up with one that’s clean we’ll let everyone know. Other site users are posting about this on the latest video on dark chocolate. Thanks for mentioning and bring it to our attention even though I am a bit late replying :-)

      Please stay tuned, raybo! Consider keeping up with the new videos posted every weekday and subscribe to the daily video feed.

      Best,
      Joseph

  • If you can find cocoa powder without cadmium and lead, sure!

  • john tiffany

    dr greger–

    I am getting very thin on this
    vegan/vegetusian diet so that my butt bones bang when I sit down on a
    hard seat. Should I start eating chocolate to add a little padding?

  • John Floro

    If sugar inhibits arterial function, then when I am running a long race, am I shooting myself in the foot by sucking down gel shots, which are mostly sugar? What should I ingest at mile 20 of a marathon to keep from crashing then?

  • disqus_m2OiWbfHKH

    How do I find the recipes for the Healthy Chocolate Milkshake and the Chocolate Ice Cream recipe.

  • Kaushal Kashyap

    Can anyone recommend a good vegan source of Dark chocolate or Cocoa Powder?

    • Thea

      Kaushal: I think you just have to try some chocolates. Most dark chocolates are vegan. But everyone has different preferences for brands. I used to throw chocolate tasting parties where people did blind taste tests of various high percentage dark (vegan) chocolates. People definitely had different tastes. So, I would recommend experimenting to see what you like.

      And I would recommend keeping in mind that much chocolate in the world is produced from child slave labor. So, if you can experiment with chocolate that is likely not from child slave labor, all the better. If you would like to learn more about the story and “safe” brands:
      the story: http://www.foodispower.org/slavery-chocolate/
      safe brands: http://www.foodispower.org/chocolate-list/

      Hope this helps.

  • James

    I’m trying to get into health and nutrition. Is it right that with the use of organic food we can increase energy? I want to know whether having dark chocolates affect my health. I have been using the products from the organic food stores(Giddy Yo Yo) which is online in Canada with one of my friends suggestion. I was wondering what’s your opinion on cocoa nibs, or roasted cocoa nibs? Do they have the same effect? I want to know the only difference between organic food and regular food?

    • Thea

      James: NutritionFacts recently did a series on organic plant foods. You should be able to find those videos by doing to a search at the top of the page. I don’t know how to direct you to the beginning of the series, though, so you may have to keep clicking “previous” video (a button on the right side of the screen below the video) to find the beginning once you find one of the ones in the series.
      .
      Also, NutritionFact has a series on chocolate. A good number of your questions may be answered. Good luck.

  • baggman744

    Cadmium in chocolate!? OPEN Question: On the Doc’s advice, I’ve added a couple of tbls. of Hershey’s Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (the exact brand pictured in his video) to my oatmeal. Then, I came across this: http://oag.ca.gov/prop65/60-Day-Notice-2014-00635 a 2014 warning to Hershey for high levels of cadmium in it’s products. A little surfing later, seems Hershey denies it & says its heavy metal levels are fine, safe, meets gov. standards, etc. Then I find this: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/cocoa-flavanols/ and of course I’m not paying to see the results. Also, you’ll note many organic brands didn’t do any better. So, cadmium in cocoa & cacao, is it worth the risk to eat 2 or 3 table spoons daily or not? Like most things in nutrition, expose/ dosage over time matters. Admittingly, I’m now ambivalent of daily cocoa powder. Any & all info greatly appreciated, good health to you all.

  • Slawek Gromadzki

    Hello Dr Greger,
    I really like the video and the fact that you addressed the truth
    about chocolate industry hidden behind some of the studies on cocoa. But I
    expected you would also deal with potential harmful effects of purine alkaloid
    theobromine in cocoa. Unfortunately, you didn’t mention anything about it.

    There are some other interesting facts about cocoa (and chocolate) I included in my
    article (link below) and wonder what you think about it:
    http://www.fullhealthsecrets.com/food/truth-about-chocolate/

  • Susan McMillan

    There seems to be increasing evidence that cocoa powder very often contains unhealthy amounts of naturally occurring cadmium, a toxic mineral which accumulates in fatty tissue. Apparently, the plant takes up cadmium preferentially from the soil. https://www.consumerlab.com/m/reviews/Cocoa_Powders_and_Chocolates_Sources_of_Flavanols/cocoa-flavanols/

    According to that research, some brands of unsweetened chocolate bars (baking chocolate) may be a healthier alternative. Can you please comment?

    • David Sprouse MS PA-C NF Mod

      Hi Susan,
      I think you’re absolutely right in being concerned about cadmium in chocolate and are wise to be looking at organizations like consumerlab.com that test for this substance in chocolate. Hopefully chocolate manufacturers will get on board and do the responsible thing to help reduce this toxic mineral!

  • Caroline Israel

    Dr. Greger, I follow a nutritarian diet of beans, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds–I eat 4-5 pounds of produce/day! But I also eat an ounce of 85% chocolate every day, and I’m pretty attached to it. Still I worry about the long-term effects of the saturated fat and the fact that most of my daily fat comes from this ounce of chocolate (as opposed to nuts or seeds). Should I try to reduce or eliminate it?