Sweet news, chocolate lovers. Thick creamy hot cocoa not only tastes better than those sugary packaged mixes, it’s also incredibly good for you. Today hot chocolate is widely thought of as a winter treat, a vice, but it’s more than that. Drinkable chocolate is a healthy elixir for the mind and body.
Sometimes we search so hard for ways to improve our health we overlook the healing powers of the soothing wonder drink right in our hands. Drinkable chocolate was used as a medicinal drink by Mesoamerican civilizations in 600 B.C. According to an article published by the National Institutes of Health, the beneficial uses of cacao and chocolate are a recent rediscovery and one we should not ignore.
1. Mood lifting
There’s a reason the French used drinkable chocolate to boost foul moods and fend off bouts of rage. It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant and triggers the production of endorphins that make people feel pleasure. Plus the high concentration of antioxidants calms rising stress hormones. These effects are compounded when dark chocolate is melted into a drink because heat releases significantly more antioxidants.
2. Cancer preventative
A Cornell study found a cup of cocoa offers twice as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as a glass of red wine and as much as three times more than a cup of green tea. Researchers attribute this abundance to higher levels of flavonoids. Researchers also advise we drink a cup in the morning, saving tea and wine for later. Can you think of a better way to start the day?
3. Kind to diabetics
Enjoy a small indulgence without worrying about glucose levels. To make, use dark chocolate or unsweetened cocoa powder and a small amount of honey, about a teaspoon per cup, as your sweetener. Melt in milk and the resulting drink will taste like joy. It contains about 600 milligrams of an antioxidant called gallic acid, which is used to treat diabetes. Healthy fats in dark cocoa help blood absorb sugar slowly, which prevents insulin spikes.
4. Improves blood flow
Cocoa’s flavonoids aid the body in processing nitric oxide. This prevents blood clots by making platelets less sticky and improves blood flow, which in turn lowers blood pressure and helps the heart stay healthy. That’s a lot of wins. Not to mention these anti-clotting, blood-thinning capabilities significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke.
5. Stimulates the mind
Increased blood flow throughout the body means an increase of oxygen to the brain. Drink a cup of hot chocolate and your mind will be sharper. According to the American Association of Advancement of Science, researchers believe drinking cocoa helps stave off dementia and helps treat those who already have it.
6. Reduces risk of heart disease
The CDC reports heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. 1 out of every 4 deaths is due to heart disease. One way to lower your risk is consume about 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. It reduces inflammation and floods your body with flavonoids and antioxidants that protect from free radicals linked to heart disease and certain cancers. In winter, get your daily dose of protection in a mug.
7. Weight loss
Will Clower, PH.D. neuroscientist and author of the book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight says having chocolate five minutes after a meal or 20 minutes prior reduces your appetite by as much as 50 percent. The key here is moderation. Consuming a small quantity of dark cocoa satiates the appetite and, since it prevents insulin spikes, keeps the body’s fat-burning ability going strong.
8. Strengthens Teeth
You read that right. Finally a dessert that’s good for your teeth in multiple ways. The tannins in cocoa contain oxalic acid, which lowers acid production and reduces plaque growth. This prevents tooth decay as long you practice good dental hygiene every day. In addition, dark hot cocoa contains theobromine, known to harden enamel and help prevent discoloration.
9. Protects skin
Your morning mug of dark chocolate is loaded with flavonoids, much loved for increasing the skin’s hydration and improving complexion. They also absorb harmful UV light, protecting you from skin cancer (but don’t forget to wear sunscreen).
10. High in Vitamins and Minerals
Dark cocoa is rich in potassium, copper, magnesium, iron and other important vitamins and minerals. These support good health and protect you from anemia, type 2 diabetes and dangerous heart problems.