Hot cocoa has some unbelievable health benefits. Now considered a superfood, chocolate — especially hot cocoa — has more cancer-fighting agents than red wine and tea, according to a number of scientific studies.
Antioxidants in hot cocoa
Leader of a Cornell University study, Professor Chang Yong Lee, and his team of researchers measured how cocoa compounds searched for agents that cause heart disease, cancer, and various other diseases.
The researchers published their study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry citing cocoa had the highest concentration of antioxidants than three popular drinks. The results of the study titled, “Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine” suggests, “cocoa is more beneficial to health than teas and red wine in terms of its higher antioxidant capacity.”
Additionally, the team of Cornell researchers found that cocoa’s antioxidant concentration was four to five times greater than black tea — and two to three times greater than green tea. Other studies suggest that hot chocolate’s antioxidant concentration was two times stronger than red wine.
Professor Lee says more antioxidants are released when chocolate is heated up. The professor adds, “The reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids, indicating the presence of known antioxidants that can stave off cancer, heart disease and other ailments.”
Flavonoids in hot cocoa help your blood from forming clots. They prevent platelets in our blood from mingling together.
Additional health benefits of cocoa
Hot cocoa is also beneficial for your heart. It improves blood flow and lowers your blood pressure, because flavonoids contained in the tasty drink help in processing nitric oxide.
The researchers explained that eating a chocolate bar instead of drinking cocoa, “although a bar of chocolate exhibits strong antioxidant activity, the health benefits are still controversial because of the saturated fats present.”
According to an article by Cornell Chronicle, researchers clarify that “cocoa has about one-third of a gram of fat per one-cup serving — compared with eight grams of fat in a standard-size 40-gram chocolate bar.”
In trying to make a decision on which to drink, — tea, red wine, or hot cocoa — Professor Lee suggests try incorporating all three healthy drinks in one day. Lee says, “Personally, I would drink hot cocoa in the morning, green tea in the afternoon and a glass of red wine in the evening. That’s a good combination.”
Homemade recipe for hot cocoa
Though hot cocoa is a fantastic health booster, commercial instant hot cocoa mixes may not offer the greatest benefit. For example, in a list of ingredients of a top-selling hot cocoa mix, cocoa is listed fifth, after higher concentrations of corn syrup, sugars, and various vegetable oils.
Consider making a healthier alternative of hot cocoa from scratch with the following homemade recipe:
- Heat 16 ounces of organic milk in a saucepan — do not let it boil.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of organic, unsweetened ground cocoa (like Lake Champlain brand) and 1 tablespoon of organic agave nectar (like Madhava brand). Organic maple syrup also works well. Sweeten to your taste.
- Add a dash of organic cinnamon.
- Pour, sip, and enjoy!
Chocolate is a superfood
Superfoods hold an abundance of antioxidants. Some of the best superfoods are blueberries, pomegranates, goji and acai berries. Once considered vices, coffee and red wines are also packed with healthy amounts of antioxidants to help fight cancer and a number of other diseases.
Chocolate now joins the list of superfoods — especially in the form of hot cocoa.