Is There Such a Thing as a Healthy Chocolate Shake?

Like many other people, I love chocolate and a chocolate milkshake was one of my favourite treats in the days before 2008 when we drastically altered our diet.  For many years after becoming vegan I considered a chocolate shake to be strictly off limits.

Then a few years ago it suddenly occurred to me that a chocolate shake could actually be made out of completely healthy ingredients!  What a revelation that was.  So my creative cook of a husband and I put our heads together and came up with this recipe.

Our goals were simple.  It had to taste good and all of its ingredients had to be healthy.

Let’s examine all the components that make up this healthy chocolate shake.


Edemame (Soy beans)

Edamame is a soybean that is harvested when it’s immature and still tender and green.  They are sometimes referred to as vegetable-type soybeans. You can find them in the frozen vegetable department of your grocery store.

Edemame are high in protein and rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  They  have many health benefits and are linked to lower blood levels of cholesterol.  They are also high in isoflavones, a compound which resembles estrogen but binds weakly to its receptors, and play a role in regulating the effects of estrogen.  When estrogen is insufficient they can perform the functions of estrogen; when estrogen is excessive, they block to estrogen receptors to estrogen.  Studies show that consumption of isoflavone-rich foods can reduce the risk of breast, endometrial and prostate cancer.   (1,16)

In addition, eating edemame scan help to reduce symptoms of menopause.


Date Paste

Dates, especially the date paste that can be easily made up from a handful of dates, have been my go-to sweeteners for years now.  Dates come in a whole food “package”, with their natural sugars entrenched within the fibre structure of the fruit, resulting in a much slower and healthier release of its sweetness within.  Refined sugars and others such as maple syrup, honey and agava, are absorbed so quickly into the blood stream that sugar levels in the blood spike, creating the release of an excess amount of insulin.  This causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) which in turn causes the body to dump fat into the bloodstream as it tries to stave off the starvation that it perceives is happening.  Dates are also rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients. (2)



Bananas are often maligned for their high content of sugar.  However, as in dates and all whole fruits, their natural sugars are bound up in the fibres that make up the structure of the plant.

Health benefits of bananas include;

  • Their high content of potassium which is linked to lower blood pressure as well as lower risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. (3)
  • Their rich content of magnesium which seems to play a role in preventing atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, arrhythmias and heart failure (4)
  • Their considerable content of catechins, a flavanol-type antioxidant which is linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. (5).  They also contain other antioxidants which are important for reducing oxidative stress (inflammation) in the body leading to the development of chronic illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.  (6,7,8)
  • Bananas are also a good source of fibre and resistant starch which are the preferred food for the beneficial bacterial species present in the gut microbiome.  The microbes ferment the fibre and resistant starch to produce short chain fatty acids which promote a healthy gut lining and are linked to the suppression of inflammation and lower risk of cancers in the gut (for example, colorectal cancer) as well as some cancers in other organs (9,10).


Cocoa Powder

Research on eating the cacoa bean in its many different forms is associated with many health benefits (11,12);

  • Increases in the health and function of the endothelium, the inner lining of our blood     vessels
  • Reductions in blood pressure
  • Lowering of insulin resistance
  • Reductions in cholesterol levels
  • Decreases in metabolic syndrome
  • Less inflammation


Plant-Based Milk

Plant-based milks have many health advantages over animal-sourced milks such as cow’s milk.  They are nutritionally comparable. However, milks sourced from plants are very low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol. In contrast, dairy products do contain cholesterol and are the largest contributors to saturated fat intake in the standard Western diet. Ingestion of cow’s milk is associated with a greater risk of death from heart disease.  Cow’s milk also has the disadvantage of its content of estrogens and insulin-like-growth-factor-1, both of which are linked to breast and prostate cancer.  On the other hand, if you use soy milk in your shake, you get the advantage of the isoflavones it contains.  They are linked to reductions in the risk of both prostate and breast cancer as well as reduced menopause symptoms. (13)


Special Notes: 

  1. You need have no concerns that the processing of dates will separate the sugars from the whole food structure and result in the same effect on the body as refined sugar. Studies show that fruit pureed in a regular blender (not a super high-speed blender such as a Vitamix) has the same effect as does whole fruit in moderating blood sugar rise and preventing the subsequent drop in blood sugar that occurs with refined sugar, indicating that the sugars in fruits remain fixed within their fibrous environment after processing. (14,15).
  2. Edemame is a very healthy ingredient. However, bits of edemame fibre can be detected in the finished shake.  It might help to remember that soluble fibre from edemame is a favourite food for the healthy microbes living in your gut.
  3. If you’re looking for a creamy smooth but still healthy chocolate shake, see my next blog entitled “A Chocolate Shake That Tastes Decadent….But Isn’t”




Makes 2 very large, 3 medium or 4 small shakes


Place the following ingredients in a regular blender;

  • 3 heaping tablespoonsful of date paste  (see below for instructions on making date paste)
  • 1 heaping cup of frozen edemame beans (with pods removed)
  • 1 frozen banana, peeled (The banana doesn’t have to be frozen but it is better if it is.)
  • 3 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • Enough soy milk (or other plant-based milk), about 600 ml, to create the thickness you prefer for a milkshake (about 600 ml)

Blend until smooth.

 To make the date paste, place 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dates in a saucepan.  Cover them with water and bring to a boil.  Let simmer for a couple of minutes then turn off the heat.  Once they cool off you can blend them in a blender or mash them with a fork until they are smooth.



2    Torronen, R., Kolehmainen, M., Sarkkinen, E., Mykkanen, H., Niskanen, L.  Postprandial glucose, insulin, and free fatty acid responses to sucrose consumed with blackcurrants and lingonberries in healthy women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep; 96(3):527-33.

3  Deanfield, J.E., Halcox, J.P., Rabelink, T.J.  Endothelial Function and Dysfunction.  Contemporary Reviews in Cardiovascular Medicine.  Circulation. 2007; 115:1285-1295

4 Blanch, N., Clifton, P.M., Petersen, K.S., Willoughby, S.R., Keogh, J.B. Effect of high potassium diet on endothelial function. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Sep;24(9):983-989.

5  Wang, X., Ouyang, Y.Y., Liu, J., Zhao, G.  Flavonoid intake and risk of CVD: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies.  Br J Nutr. 2014 Jan 14; 111(1): 1-11. doi: 10.1017/S000711451300278X.

6  Someya, S., Yoshiki, Y., Okubo, K.  Antioxidant compounds from bananas (Musa Cavendish).  Elsevier Food Chemistry. November 2002; 79(3): 351-354.

7 AlAmri, F.S., Hossain, M.A.  Comparison of total phenols, flavonoids and antioxidant potential of local and imported ripe bananas.  Egyptian Journal of Basic and Applied Sciences. December 2018; 5(4): 245-251.

8 Pham-Huy, L.A., He, H., Pham-Huy, C.  Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health.   Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun; 4(2): 89-96.

9  Bird, A.R., Brown, I.L., Topping, D.L.  Starches, resistant starches, the gut microflora and human health.  Curr Issues Intest Microbiol. 2000 Mar; 1(1): 25-37.

10  Sivaprakasama, S., Prasad, P.D., Singh, N. Benefits of short-chain fatty acids and their receptors in inflammation and carcinogenesis.  Pharmacology & Therapeutics. August, 2016; 164: 144-151.

11  Hooper, L., Kay, C., Abdelhamid, A. et al.  Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials.  Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Mar; 95(3):740-51.

12  Berends, L.M., van der Velpen, V., Cassidy, A.  Flavan-3-ols, theobromine, and the effects of cocoa and chocolate on cardiometabolic risk factors.  Curr Opin Lipidol. 2015 Feb; 26(1):10-19.


14   S F Evans, M Meister, M Mahmood, H Eldoumi, S Peterson, P Perkins-Veazie, S L Clarke, M Payton, B J Smith, E A Lucas. Mango supplementation improves blood glucose in obese individuals. Nutr Metab Insights. 2014 Aug 28;7:77-84.

15   R Törrönen, M Kolehmainen, E Sarkkinen, H Mykkänen, L Niskanen. Postprandial glucose, insulin, and free fatty acid responses to sucrose consumed with blackcurrants and lingonberries in healthy women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Sep;96(3):527-33.

16 Kim, I.S. Current Perspectives on the Beneficial Effects of Soybean Isoflavones and Their Metabolites for Humans. Antioxidants (Basel). 2021 Jun 30;10(7):1064. Doi: 10.3390/antiox10071064. PMID: 34209224; PMCID: PMC8301030.

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Promoting a healthy adventurous lifestyle powered by plants and the strength of scientific evidence.

My name is Debra Harley (BScPhm) and I welcome you to my retirement project, this website. Over the course of a life many lessons are learned, altering deeply-rooted ideas and creating new passions.

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