A common comfort food choice, chocolate milkshakes might conjure up images of childhood treats and lazy summer days. And while the rich and creamy beverage certainly isn’t the healthiest dessert available, it does have a few important benefits. Chocolate milkshakes are loaded with calcium and antioxidants -- so you don’t have to feel too guilty about your weekly milkshake habit.
The main ingredients in milkshakes -- milk and ice cream -- are packed full of calcium. Just 1 cup of milk contains almost 300 milligrams of calcium, while 1/2 cup of ice cream contains almost 100 milligrams. Roughly 99 percent of the body’s calcium reserve sits in the bones and teeth, where it helps support and strengthen the structures. Calcium helps protect against osteoporosis, bone fractures and dental decay -- problems that become increasingly more prevalent with age. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a daily calcium intake of 1,000 milligrams. However, after age 50, women should increase their daily intake to 1,200 milligrams.
Cocoa contains a type of natural chemical that has disease-fighting capabilities. These chemicals are commonly called flavonoids. By relaxing the blood vessels and keeping the blood slick, flavonoids help lower blood pressure -- which in turn decreases the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids’ antioxidant properties also help keep the skin soft and supple.
For Appetite Suppression
Chocolate milkshakes can be a great way to sneak in calories, fat, protein and nutrients when you can’t get them any other way. Appetite suppression is common with certain medical conditions, such as cancer or digestive disorders. Traditional meals might also be impossible after surgery or medical procedures involving the mouth, throat or stomach. If the thought of solid food makes you ill, talk to your physician or dietitian about using milkshakes as a meal replacement.
One-half cup of chocolate ice-cream contains roughly 2.5 grams of protein, just over 7 grams of fat, about 70 milligrams of calcium and 160 milligrams of potassium. One cup of reduced-fat milk delivers about 8 grams of protein, almost 5 grams of fat, around 300 milligrams of calcium and just under 350 milligrams of potassium. While chocolate milkshakes probably can't suffice as your only meal replacement, they can help you reach the recommended daily intake of 20 to 35 grams of fat, 800 to 1000 milligrams of calcium and 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. The recommended intake for protein is based on weight -- you need roughly 0.66 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Add an Avocado
The “Shape” magazine website offers a new take on the traditional milkshake by adding avocado. At just around 170 calories, it’s a sweet treat that won’t damage your diet. Plus, the avocado provides a dose of healthy fats, essential vitamins and other nutrients. Mix one-fourth of a ripe avocado with skim milk, brown sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. After a few minutes in the blender, you’ll have a surprisingly sweet, smooth and non-veggie-tasting treat.
Make It Healthier
Although traditional chocolate milkshakes have their nutritional benefits, they also have a few disadvantages. Ice cream is often loaded with fat and sugar, which is concerning if you’re trying to follow a healthy diet. As a healthier substitute, stick a tub of regular or Greek Yogurt into the freezer for a few hours until it firms and use a few scoops in place of the ice cream. Stick with nonfat milk -- or choose almond milk if you’re concerned about milk’s natural fats. Rather than relying on sugar-laden chocolate syrup or artificially flavored ice cream to satisfy your chocolate craving, use dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. Simply grate a few ounces of a dark chocolate bar and toss the pieces into the blender with your other ingredients. Add fresh fruit as well for extra flavor and nutrition.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- Shape: 12 Healthy Midnight Snacks from Celebrity Chefs
- The Dr. Oz Show: The Super Powers of Cocoa
- National Cancer Institute: Eating Problems and Ways to Manage Them
- National Agricultural Library: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- National Agricultural Library: Dietary Reference Intakes: Recommended Intakes for Individuals
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.