Why You Should Add Olive Oil to Chocolate

August 31, 2017

New research out of Europe makes an excellent argument for eating more chocolate cake—better heart health. Scientists at the European Society of Cardiology recently identified two key ingredients—dark chocolate and extra virgin olive oil—as having a powerful effect on the heart health of volunteer subjects, all of whom had some form of cardiovascular risk, such as smoking, hypertension, or family history.

During the 28-day study, a panel of 26 subjects (14 men and 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors were given 40 grams of dark chocolate a day. For 14 days, the chocolate contained 10 percent extra virgin olive oil and for another 14 days, it contained 2.5 percent Italian Pania red apple. Each of the three ingredients in the study was chosen for their known antioxidant properties.

“Fruits and vegetables exert their protective effects through plant polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, [olive oil](, and apples,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Rossella Di Stefano. “Research has found that the Italian Panaia red apple has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants."

At the end of the study, researchers found that the olive oil-enriched chocolate was linked with several indicators of an improved heart health profile—specifically, higher levels of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) which are essential for vascular repair and cellular function and lowered risk for atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries and eventually cuts the flow of blood to your organs, which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and death.

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The dark chocolate and olive oil combination was also responsible for a significant increase in HDL, or good cholesterol, and decreased blood pressure compared to the start of the study. Because every member of the study received the dark chocolate and olive oil regimen during either the first or second portion of the study, it was easy to identify the more robust cardiovascular effects of this treatment compared to the dark chocolate and apple.

"We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile,” Dr. DiStefano said. “Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our 'repairing cells', the EPC.” Which brings us to the call to action: it’s time to bake something nice and chocolatey, with some extra virgin olive oil.

There’s this chocolate olive oil cake that’s simple enough to eat for breakfast, a citrus-y chocolate torte that tastes even better the next day, or for something smaller, these cookies that are like chocolate and sea salt brownies, but more dense. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try these chocolate and olive oil ice cream sandwiches, which calls for homemade chocolate and olive oil gelato.

Of course, you could always get the same effect from eating a piece of olive oil-infused dark chocolate, but then there wouldn't be any cake, and who wants that?

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • d.lynn
  • Marja Montserrat
    Marja Montserrat
  • Felicia Nelson
    Felicia Nelson
  • Joycelyn
  • Gigi
Karen Lo

Written by: Karen Lo

lunch lady


d.lynn November 22, 2017
just wondering, will the health benefits remain same --- eating 1-2 table spoon of live oil directly Vs adding same quantity of olive oil to your diet?
Learnt many good abt olive oil, and would love to make the oil a default item at my cafeteria for employees. though it an individuals call, whether to eat or not and / how to eat, I can think of a good thing I can do with less effort for my staff.
looking for some special discount rather buying for mrp - any clue similar to , special price on acount of special days - in 2018, hopefully i execute it at the least price.
Marja M. September 8, 2017
Hola, quite interesting this article. As I am more of a lazy person I cut thin slices of baguette, put dark chocolate on it. When the chocolate is melted on the bread, I take them out, poor some drops of extra virgin olive oil on them, and finish with some Maldon salt.
Felicia N. September 7, 2017
How much does 40 g. of chocolate like like in a serving? A one ounce square? One slice of torte/cake? Half?
I just have to ask because it helps clarify that more of a thing isn't always best (for health, and that's one reason for the article).
Joycelyn September 7, 2017
1.41 ounce, give or take a bit.
Joycelyn September 7, 2017
Having baked for a good 50 plus years, I finally tried baking two cake recipes I've had for ages that called for olive oil. One being olive oil with dark chocolate, and one being olive oil with champagne grapes.

Although both were made with two different olive oils, both cakes tasted terrible & both had the most off putting texture. Both also, I might add, ended up being trashed.
But.. Using my organic cold pressed avocado oil for both cakes second time around, was a completely different story. Quite lovely cakes actually.

I honestly don't get the hype about using olive oil in baked goods. Every olive oil is different, some, extra virgin especially, can be very strong in taste and fragrance, with some not being as strong but still off putting in taste if used in baking.

And, this being my opinion only, olive oil of any kind has no place in a cake recipe.
Gigi September 7, 2017
A study of 26 subjects is unworthy to be called "scientific". Any conclusions drawn should be ignored. That said, dark chocolate is always a good thing.
Judith P. September 7, 2017
Oh, thank you for this article! I'll give a chocolate olive oil cake a go and pray for happy tastebuds and a happy heart. I love David Leite's orange olive oil cake and will branch out to the chocolate variation.
Javier G. September 5, 2017
very interesting
AJ K. August 31, 2017
Anytime a medical authority approves us to eat more chocolate is always a welcome but i just happened to have made Nigella Lawson's chocolate olive oil cake 2 months ago and it has been an amazing discovery. I've now made it 3 times, once with a sugar substitute for dietary restrictions and its been amazing each time. The main recipe only calls for almond flour which keeps it gluten free for certain friends and the olive oil works beautifully with the cocoa and almonds. Next up i need to try the chocolate olive oil mousse that's linked in this article.
Anke T. August 31, 2017
Here in Turkey, there is (was?) a chocolate spread on the market containing olive oil. I bought one jar, took one teaspoonful to try (I've been known to eat Nutella by the tablespoon and was hoping for a healthier alternative) - and nearly retched, the taste combination was so disgusting. I chucked the rest of the jar in the bin right there. Moral of the story: as much as I love both chocolate and olive oil, I'll continue to enjoy them separately, thank you very much - no matter what the research says :-)
Shoshana S. September 7, 2017
try again, using these recipes, I doubt the chocolate spread used a very nice oil or the right proportions......