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Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

June 28, 2016 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

It’s cool, chocolatey and undeniably good for you! Of the three claims I just made, the first two probably won’t raise any eyebrows, but the latter one may ruffle a few skeptical feathers. After all, ice cream isn’t something you’ll find on most lists of wholesome dietary options. Even health food store varieties are probably best enjoyed as an occasional treat if only because of their sugar content. Today’s culinary creation is an exception to the status quo.

From a health standpoint, ice cream presents a number of pitfalls besides sugar. For one thing, dairy can cause allergic reactions and digestive upset in a fairly large segment of the population. Also, frozen desserts frequently contain artificial colors, flavors and various gums and stabilizers in order to enhance taste and texture. If you try hard enough, it’s possible to avoid some of these questionable ingredients. However, dodging them all typically requires making homemade ice cream.

My version of chocolate “ice cream” doesn’t contain dairy, added sugar or artificial ingredients of any kind. In fact, every component of this icy treat was selected in order to support optimal health.

Healthy Ingredient #1: Organic Coconut Butter – Coconut butter or “cream” is made by blending whole coconut meat into a paste. Nothing more is added to the mix. The resulting product is rich in healthy fats and fiber. In recent years, coconut oil has been exonerated as a causative factor in heart disease. The latest research indicates that unrefined coconut may well reduce cardiovascular and dementia risk. Additionally, some preliminary studies suggest that “virgin” coconut oil may protect against anxiety and dental decay.

Healthy Ingredient #2: Organic Dark Chocolate – It’s becoming increasingly clear that dark chocolate is a bona fide superfood. Several studies from 2016 confirm that high quality cocoa improves vascular function, increases antioxidant status in at risk patients, such as those with compromised liver health, and lowers the risk of cardiovascular mortality and cognitive decline. What’s more, theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in chocolate, has also been shown to strengthen tooth enamel. However, it should be noted that some chocolate sources contain unacceptably high levels of heavy metals, including cadmium and lead. Rest assured, the dark chocolate bar I use in the following recipe is low in heavy metals and rich in health-promoting flavonoids.

Healthy Ingredient #3: Coffee – Admittedly, coffee plays a small role here. Still, adding coffee helps to enrich the complexity and depth of chocolate flavor. And, much like the two previous ingredients, coffee continues to shine in the medical literature. Of late, scientists have reported that coffee consumption: a) reduces post heart attack mortality; b) decreases the “incident risk of cognitive disorders”; c) protects against a common marker of accelerated aging – the shortening of telomeres; and d) is linked to improved cardiometabolic status in diabetics. As a bonus, some data indicates that drinking coffee is inversely associated with periodontitis. I mention this because coffee tends to have a bad reputation with respect to dental health – primarily because of its staining potential.

Healthy Ingredient #4: Stevia – Speaking of bad reputations, stevia is sometimes dismissed as a result of bad experiences. Unlike sugar, stevia products vary widely in terms of after-taste and sweetness. In my experience, liquid extracts tend to be more palatable, particularly if they’re used judiciously. The most common error made when using stevia is adding too much to any given recipe. But, I urge you not to give up on stevia too hastily. A fair amount research has demonstrated that stevia is one of the better (all natural) sweeteners thanks to its antioxidant activity and relative lack of effect on blood sugar, cavities and weight gain.

Healthy Fellow Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

1/2 Jar (12 Tbs) Organic Coconut Butter

3 oz Bar Organic Dark Chocolate

1 Cup of Hot Organic Espresso

1 Tbs Organic Vanilla Extract

1-2 Dropperfuls of Stevia

1/4 tsp NutraSalt

Nutritional Content: Calories: 380. Fat: 33 grams. Carbohydrates: 8 grams. Fiber: 8 grams. Protein: 4 grams. Servings: 5.

Break the chocolate bar into small pieces and place in a large glass bowl. Add the coconut butter, liquid stevia, vanilla extract and NutraSalt. Pour a cup of hot espresso over the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Transfer the mixture into a freezer-safe glass container with a securely fitting lid. Freeze for three or more hours prior to serving.

Here’s a little background on the specific products I used in the Healthy Fellow Test Kitchen. I like the Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate Bar for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I used Artisana Organics Raw Coconut Butter as the base instead of cream and milk. NuNaturals makes a delicious, alcohol-free Vanilla Stevia extract that is a staple in my healthy, foodie experiments. Lastly, I used NutraSalt, a unique form of sea salt, in order to bump up the potassium content.

While delicious, this version of “ice cream” doesn’t behave exactly the same as the conventional version. Over time, it gets quite hard when frozen. Therefore, you’ll need to defrost it for awhile before enjoying it on subsequent occasions. And, you may need to stir it a bit with a spoon prior to serving, as some degree of ingredient separation may occur. But, the health benefits far outweigh these minor inconveniences. Enjoy!

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – The Effect of Coconut Oil Pulling on Streptococcus Mutans (link)

Study 2 – A Coconut Extra Virgin Oil-Rich Diet Increases HDL (link)

Study 3 – Ecological Study for Sri Lanka About Health Effects of Coconut (link)

Study 4 – The Role of Dietary Coconut for the Prevention and Treatment (link)

Study 5 – Antistress and Antioxidant Effects of Virgin Coconut Oil In Vivo (link)

Study 6 – Does Epicatechin Contribute to the Acute Vascular Function Effects (link)

Study 7 – Dietary Epicatechin Intake & 25-y Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality (link)

Study 8 – Chocolate Consumption is Associated w/ a Lower Risk of Cognitive (link)

Study 9 – Effects of Dark Chocolate on NOX-2-Generated Oxidative Stress (link)

Study 10 – Evaluation of Human Enamel Surfaces Treated with Theobromine … (link)

Study 11 – Coffee Reduces the Risk of Death After Acute Myocardial Infarction (link)

Study 12 – Coffee Intake and the Incident Risk of Cognitive Disorders … (link)

Study 13 – Coffee Consumption Is Positively Associated w/ Longer Leukocyte (link)

Study 14 – Plasma Concentrations of Coffee Polyphenols & Plasma Biomarkers (link)

Study 15 – Severe Periodontitis is Inversely Associated w/ Coffee Consumption (link)

Study 16 – Nutritional Composition of Stevia Rebaudiana- A Sweet Herb (link)

Study 17 – Antidiabetic and Antioxidant Activity of Stevia Rebaudiana Extracts (link)

Study 18 – Association Between Stevia Sweetener Consumption and Nutritional … (link)

Study 19 – Is Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni a Non Cariogenic Sweetener? A Review … (link)

Study 20 – An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison of the Effect of Stevia Rebaudiana (link)

“Virgin” Coconut Oil May Reduce Oxidative & Psychological Stress

Source: Exp Ther Med. 2015 Jan;9(1):39-42. (link)

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8 Comments & Updates to “Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 06/28/16:


    J Agric Food Chem. 2016 Jun 23.

    Dietary Epicatechin Is Available to Breastfed Infants through Human Breast Milk in the Form of Host and Microbial Metabolites.

    Polyphenols play an important role in human health. To address their accessibility to a breastfed infant, we planned to evaluate whether breast milk (BM) (colostrum, transitional, and mature) epicatechin metabolites could be related to the dietary habits of mothers. The polyphenol consumption of breastfeeding mothers was estimated using a food frequency questionnaire and 24 h recalls. Solid-phase extraction-ultra performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (SPE-UPLC-MS/MS) was applied for direct epicatechin metabolite analysis. Their bioavailability in BM as a result of dietary ingestion was confirmed in a preliminary experiment with a single dose of dark chocolate. Several host and microbial phase II metabolites of epicatechin were detected in BM among free-living lactating mothers. Interestingly, a modest correlation between dihydroxyvalerolactone sulfate and the intake of cocoa products was observed. Although a very low percentage of dietary polyphenols is excreted in BM, they are definitely in the diet of breastfed infants. Therefore, evaluation of their role in infant health could be further promoted.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 06/28/16:


    Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2016 Jun 26:1-6.

    Mineral essential elements for nutrition in different chocolate products.

    In this work, the essential mineral nutritional elements in cocoa beans, in chocolates at different cocoa percentage (60,70,80 and 90%) and in milk chocolate are evaluated. Dark chocolates are confirmed as an excellent source of magnesium (252.2 mg/100 g) and iron (10.9 mg/100 g): in chocolate containing 90% cocoa, their content corresponds to, respectively, 67.0% and 80.3 of Nutrient Reference Values (NRV) in the European Union. The chocolate containing 90% cocoa is also a good source of zinc (3.5 mg/100 g), which is important for the immune system, and selenium (0.1 mg/100 g). Three main components suitable to explain the mineral concentrations are analyzed by factor analysis. The component 1 can be interpreted as the contribution from the cocoa beans, owing to the mineral characteristics of the soil in which they have grown; the component 2 is mainly due to the manipulation and transformation of the cocoa in chocolate, while the component 3 represents the milk powder.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 06/28/16:


    Physiol Behav. 2016 May 25;164(Pt A):40-46.

    Coconut and sunflower oil ratios in ice cream influence subsequent food selection and intake.

    The effect of coconut oil (CO, containing mainly medium chain triglycerides – MCTs) and sunflower oil (SO, containing mainly long chain triglycerides – LCTs) used as fat source (10% fat ice cream) in different ratios (25% CO and 75% SO – 25CO:75SO, 50% CO and 50% SO – 50CO:50SO, 75% CO and 25% SO – 75CO:25SO) was investigated to assess differences in appetite and ad-libitum (evening and snack) food intake using a single blind design. 36 healthy female participants consumed a fixed portion (150g) of ice cream 45min before an ad-libitum dinner and snacks. Appetite sensations were tracked across the day. Participants ate significantly less fat after 75CO:25SO than 25CO:75SO (p=0.007) and there was also a trend for lower fat intake in this condition as compared to 50CO:50SO (p=0.068). High fat savoury snack intake significantly decreased after 75CO:25SO in comparison with both 25CO:75SO (p=0.038) and 50CO:50SO (p=0.008). Calorie intake from snacks was also found to be significantly lower after 25CO:75SO and 50CO:50SO than 75CO:25SO (p=0.021 and 0.030 respectively). There was no effect of condition on appetite or desire ratings over the day. Eating a standard portion of ice cream containing different ratios of MCTs and LCTs can modestly influence acute food selection and intake, with MCTs manifesting their effect earlier and LCTs later due to differences in the absorption and metabolism of these lipids. However, the differences evident in the present study were small, and require further research before firm conclusions can be drawn.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Updated 08/08/12


    Pulse (Basel). 2016 Jul;4(1):28-37.

    Relation of Habitual Chocolate Consumption to Arterial Stiffness in a Community-Based Sample: Preliminary Findings.

    BACKGROUND: The consumption of chocolate and cocoa has established cardiovascular benefits. Less is known about the effects of chocolate on arterial stiffness, a marker of subclinical cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate whether chocolate intakes are independently associated with pulse wave velocity (PWV), after adjustment for cardiovascular, lifestyle and dietary factors.

    METHODS: Prospective analyses were undertaken on 508 community-dwelling participants (mean age 61 years, 60% women) from the Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study (MSLS). Habitual chocolate intakes, measured using a food frequency questionnaire, were related to PWV, measured approximately 5 years later.

    RESULTS: Chocolate intake was significantly associated with PWV in a non-linear fashion with the highest levels of PWV in those who never or rarely ate chocolate and lowest levels in those who consumed chocolate once a week. This pattern of results remained and was not attenuated after multivariate adjustment for diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors and dietary variables (p = 0.002).

    CONCLUSIONS: Weekly chocolate intake may be of benefit to arterial stiffness. Further studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms that may mediate the observed effects of habitual chocolate consumption on arterial stiffness.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 09/23/16:


    Appetite. 2016 Sep 15;108:21-27.

    The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate consumption on mood.

    Chocolate consumption is anecdotally associated with an increase in happiness, but little experimental work has examined this effect. We combined a food type manipulation (chocolate vs. crackers) with a mindfulness manipulation (mindful consumption vs. non-mindful consumption) and examined the impact on positive mood. Participants (N = 258) were randomly assigned to eat a small portion (75 calories) of chocolate or a control food (crackers) in a mindful or non-mindful way. Participants who were instructed to mindfully eat chocolate had a greater increase in positive mood compared to participants who were instructed to eat chocolate non-mindfully or crackers either mindfully or non-mindfully. Additional analyses revealed that self-reported liking of the food partially mediated this effect. Chocolate appears to increase positive mood, but particularly when it is eaten mindfully.

    Be well!


  6. JP Says:

    Updated 09/25/16:


    Nutrition. 2016 Jul 26.

    Natural antioxidant ice cream acutely reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular function and physical performance in healthy individuals.

    OBJECTIVE: The formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) contributes to the pathogenesis and progression of several diseases. Polyphenols have been shown to be beneficial against ROS. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a natural antioxidant ice cream on oxidative stress, vascular function, and physical performance.

    METHODS: In this controlled, single-blind, crossover study, 14 healthy individuals were randomized to consume 100 g of either antioxidant ice cream containing dark cocoa powder and hazelnut and green tea extracts or milk chocolate ice cream (control ice cream). Participants were studied at baseline and 2 h after ingesting ice cream. Serum polyphenols, antioxidant status (ferric-reducing ability of plasma [FRAP]), nitric oxide (NOx) bioavailability, markers of oxidative stress (determination of reactive oxygen metabolites [d-ROMs] and hydrogen peroxide [H2O2]), endothelium function (flow-mediated dilation [FMD] and reactive hyperemia index [RHI]), and exercise tolerance (stress test) were assessed, and the double product was measured.

    RESULTS: Serum polyphenols (P < 0.001), NOx (P < 0.001), FRAP (P < 0.005), FMD (P < 0.001), and RHI (P < 0.05) increased significantly, oxidative stress decreased (d-Roms, P < 0.001; H2O2, P < 0.001), and the double product (P < 0.001) was improved only after antioxidant ice cream ingestion. No changes were found after control ice cream ingestion. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that a natural ice cream rich in polyphenols acutely improved vascular function and physical performance in healthy individuals through a reduction in oxidative stress. Be well! JP

  7. JP Says:

    Updated 11/29/16:


    Clin Interv Aging. 2016 Nov 14;11:1645-1652.

    Habitual cocoa intake reduces arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women regardless of intake frequency: a randomized parallel-group study.

    Arterial stiffness is substantially higher in postmenopausal than in premenopausal women. Daily cocoa intake has been shown to reduce central arterial stiffness in health adults, regardless of age; however, the effect of cocoa-intake frequency on arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women remains unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cocoa-intake frequency on arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women. A total of 26 postmenopausal women (mean age ± standard deviation 64±12 years) were randomly assigned to two groups with different cocoa-intake frequencies: one group ingested 17 g of cocoa once daily except on Sundays (every-day group, n=13), and the other ingested 17 g of cocoa twice daily every other day (every-other-day group, n=13). These intake regimens were maintained in both groups for 12 weeks. Carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity and femoral-ankle pulse-wave velocity were measured in both groups at baseline and again at the end of the 12-week study period. Compared to baseline, both pulse-wave velocities had significantly decreased after the 12-week study period in both groups (P<0.05). However, no significant difference in degree of change was observed between the two groups. Although this study did not include a sedentary control group, these results suggest that regardless of frequency, habitual cocoa intake reduces central and peripheral arterial stiffness in postmenopausal women.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 03/22/17:


    Nutr Res. 2017 Mar 7.

    Acute dark chocolate ingestion is beneficial for hemodynamics via enhancement of erythrocyte deformability in healthy humans.

    Erythrocyte deformability is an important property of erythrocytes that considerably affects blood flow and hemodynamics. The high content of polyphenols present in dark chocolate has been reported to play a protective role in functionality of erythrocytes. We hypothesized that chocolate might influence erythrocytes not only after repeated chronic intake, but also immediately after its ingestion. Thus, we determined the acute effect of dark chocolate and milk (with lower content of biologically active substances) chocolate intake on erythrocyte deformability. We also focused on selected factors that may affect erythrocyte deformability, specifically nitric oxide production in erythrocytes and total antioxidant capacity of plasma. We determined posttreatment changes in the mentioned parameters 2hours after consumption of chocolate compared with their levels before consumption of chocolate. In contrast to milk chocolate intake, the dark chocolate led to a significantly higher increase in erythrocyte deformability. Nitric oxide production in erythrocytes was not changed after dark chocolate intake, but significantly decreased after milk chocolate. The plasma total antioxidant capacity remained unaffected after ingestion of both chocolates. We conclude that our hypothesis was confirmed. Single ingestion of dark chocolate improved erythrocyte deformability despite unchanged nitric oxide production and antioxidant capacity of plasma. Increased deformability of erythrocytes may considerably improve rheological properties of blood and thus hemodynamics in humans, resulting in better tissue oxygenation.

    Be well!


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