You might have heard, “everything in moderation.” This makes sense especially if you indulge in comfort foods, such as chocolate.

According to a couple of Portland registered dietitians, a little bit of dark chocolate in your diet can produce health benefits.

Natalie Gavi, owner of Gavi Nutrition, said dark chocolates have flavanols, which have antioxidant properties.

Noting that you should look for a higher percentage of dark chocolate content, Gavi said, “More health benefits come from greater flavanol content.”

Gavi said antioxidants help protect us against free radicals. “We are exposed to free radicals every day, whether it’s from digesting food, or breathing in pollutants, or UV damage,” Gavi said. “Our body isn’t able to make enough antioxidants. It’s important that we consume enough from outside sources, specifically whole, plant-based foods.”

According to Gavi, flavanols help at relaxing our blood vessels, which in turn, helps to increase blood flow. “It can have a positive effect on blood pressure,” she said.

Jan Kaplan, with The Portland Clinic, added, “The things that I’ve seen have pretty good evidence to show that it will lower blood pressure a few points, both the top number and the bottom number of blood pressure.”

Kaplan continued, “There’s some research to show that it (dark chocolate) helped with chronic fatigue. The folks who were in that study were reporting that they had less depression and more energy.”

Whether dark chocolate makes you more mentally alert is somewhat in question. “But the research is really inconsistent on that,” Kaplan said. “I think part of the problem with some of this research being inconsistent is that chocolate varies so much. Unless they are using exactly the same product, it’s really hard to compare research from one study to another.”

Kaplan notes chocolate isn’t for everyone. Some people may have allergies while others can develop a migraine headache. Kaplan said in people with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), chocolate will decrease the pressure in the valve that’s between your stomach and your esophagus. It can make GERD worse.

If you are considering adding dark chocolate to your diet, Gavi suggests a dark chocolate content of 70 percent or higher to get nutritional benefits.

“If you want to have it every day, I would say about an ounce a day,” Gavi said, noting an ounce would be an amount approximately the size of a packet of dental floss.

You can certainly bite off a chunk of a dark chocolate bar, but there are creative ways of blending this sweet treat into your meals.

For breakfast, Gavi will shred pieces of dark chocolate and sprinkle over yogurt or cereal. “Dark chocolate-covered fruit is a fun way to switch it up. We would be getting antioxidants from not only the dark chocolate but from the fruit as well.”

Noting that dark chocolate has been shown to be protective against cardiovascular disease, Gavi said, “It really is a heart-healthy food, in moderation.”


COURTESY: GAVI NUTRITION - Avocado Chocolate MousseServes: 4


Two small avocados

1 1/2 1.65 ounce dark chocolate bars

1 tablespoon of raw cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 1/2 tablespoons of maple syrup or sweetener of choice

1/4 cup of milk of choice


Blackberries (or fruit of choice)


Sliced almonds (or nut of choice)


1. Melt the dark chocolate over a stovetop. Bring one inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heatproof bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Place chocolate in the bowl and occasionally stir until melted. Make sure the water in the saucepan never reaches a boil.

2. Combine the melted chocolate with all of the ingredients in a food processor.

3. Blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. Spoon into small bowls or glasses and garnish with your choice of toppings.

5. Enjoy!

Recipe alternatives:

1. For thinner mousse, use more milk.

2. For added protein, use a chocolate-flavored protein powder and 1?„2 cup of milk.

3. For thicker consistency, refrigerate for one hour or overnight.

4. For thinner, more pudding-like consistency, serve immediately.

— Courtesy: Gavi Nutrition


COURTESY: GAVI NUTRITION - 3 Ingredient Dark Chocolate Banana Ice CreamServes: 2


Two large, ripe bananas

One dark chocolate bar

One tablespoon of raw cocoa powder


Crushed dark chocolate


1. Slice the ripe bananas and place them in the freezer for three hours, or until fully frozen

2. Melt the dark chocolate over a stovetop. Bring one inch of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Set a heat-proof bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Place chocolate in the bowl and occasionally stir until melted. Make sure the water in the sauce pan never reaches a boil.

3. Combine the melted chocolate and frozen bananas in a food processor.

4. Blend until smooth.

5. Place the mixture in the freezer until it hardens or enjoy right away for a soft-serve consistency.

6. Garnish with crushed, dark chocolate.

7. Enjoy!

Recipe notes:

1. For a creamier texture, add ¼ cup of your milk of choice.

2. For added protein, top with peanut butter.

3. For sweeter flavor, use overripe bananas.

— Courtesy: Gavi Nutrition


COURTESY: NEW SEASONS - Silken Tofu Chocolate MousseIngredients:

Two cups dark chocolate chips

One (12 oz) pkg silken tofu

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canned coconut milk, well stirred.

1/2 cup cocoa powder. Directions:


Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler or in a microwave and stir until smooth. In a food processor, add all ingredients, including the melted chips and process until smooth and creamy. Chill until cool and serve with your favorite whipped topping.

Courtesy: New Seasons

Scott Keith is a freelance writer for the Portland Tribune and the Pamplin Media Group. If you have a health tip, or a story idea, contact Scott at

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