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Dietitian Q/A

Because of the contents of some questions and the large number we receive, the MUSC Dietitians only answer selected questions. Although we discourage questions regarding personal health problems, scheduling an appointment with the outpatient dietitian to address these concerns is encouraged. Appointments can be made after a physician referral is received.

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 Question:  My 80 year mother eats brownies for breakfast because she heard that chocolate was good for you. What can I tell her to help her with her diet habits?


I applaud your mother’s efforts to try to incorporate foods that are shown to be healthy. She is correct that the chocolate, i.e. cocoa powder, in the brownies are healthy. Dark chocolate has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also full of flavonoids that act as anti-oxidants in the body. The emphasis should be on the dark part, because what we add to the chocolate, often sugar and fats, can be unhealthy. The lighter the chocolate the more of the unhealthy stuff it usually contains.


So you may want to point out to her that overall the brownie is not as healthy. While the cocoa powder provides those great health benefits, brownies often contain quite a bit of sugar and oils that can add extra calories we don’t need. Some also have a substantial amount of sodium and cholesterol that aren’t healthy in large amounts either.


Tell her not to worry though; the options for a healthy breakfast that tastes great and includes chocolate are endless. Instead of a brownie, suggest one of the following:

  • Homemade oatmeal with some cocoa powder, a bit of maple syrup, a bit of vanilla and some fat-free half-n-half
  • Oikos fat free chocolate Greek yogurt by Stonyfield Farms with some fresh fruit
  • Chocolate light soy milk on cereal (It goes great with Special K with the strawberries)
  • Homemade waffles, pancakes or bran muffins with cocoa powder or very dark chocolate chips (the higher the % of cocoa the better) added
  • Low fat or fat-free yogurt with a low-sugar chocolate granola and some fruit if desired
  • Make a breakfast smoothie with peanut butter, cocoa powder and milk in the blender. Not a fan of peanut butter? Try a fruit, such as oranges, bananas, raspberries, strawberries, etc. instead.

Answered: 05/09/2011

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