COVID-19: For information related to COVID-19 (formerly referred to as “novel coronavirus"), visit

VCU Massey Cancer Center


Diet and nutrition: chocolate

If you’re a chocolate lover, stay tuned! Chocolate is a huge hit when it comes to meeting your sweet tooth needs. An ingredient in chocolate, cocoa, has been shown in research to have cancer-fighting effects. Cocoa has antioxidants called flavanols that have been shown to reduce damage to cells, fight against inflammation, lower blood pressure and potentially reduce your risk of cancer and prevent other chronic illness or diseases.

However, chocolate is chocolate, meaning it is still full of sugar and fat, so it is important to look for key ingredients and products such as dark chocolate or chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. High-quality dark chocolate typically has less sugar and saturated fat than other types of chocolate. In conclusion, the darker and stronger the chocolate, the more flavanols it has, and the more health benefits it will provide.

Choose these products to maximize your health:
- Dark chocolate blocks containing 70% cocoa
- Raw cacao or cocoa powder
- Cacao nibs, which are crushed, raw cacao beans

Ways to use the above ingredients:

  • Add cacao nibs, dark chocolate squares and cocoa powder to trail mix, homemade
    granola, smoothies, oatmeal or as an alternative to chocolate chips in cookies
  • Add cocoa powder in water for a homemade hot chocolate
  • Melt dark chocolate and have with strawberries
  • Melt and add to plain yogurt
  • Have chocolate square blocks with any type of fruit
  • Make a frozen snack/dessert:
    • Chocolate Nut Butter Banana Bites
      • Melt dark chocolate
      • Put your favorite nut butter (peanut, sunflower, almond butter) between two slices of banana
      • Cover with melted dark chocolate
      • Top with crushed nuts, powdered cocoa, etc. and freeze
    • Banana Chocolate Ice Cream
      • Put 2-3 frozen banana slices and 2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder in a food processor or blender. Turn on and combine ingredients.
      • Serve when fully combined and smooth!

In conclusion, there are cancer-fighting properties in dark chocolate, specifically the ingredient cocoa, however, this does not mean it is beneficial to eat large amounts of chocolate. Remember, moderation is key!

Resources: disease-preventing-dark-chocolate

Courtesy of Danielle Rednick, VCU Health dietetic intern. Visit our Diet and Nutrition blog for more recipes and information about the connection between diet and cancer survivorship.

Written by: Massey Communications Office

Posted on: August 24, 2020

View graphic versionView graphic version