Who doesn’t enjoy the rich and warm flavor of creamy hot chocolate warming your freezing hands during a cold winter day? Well according to recent studies, now you may have a scientific excuse to grab a heavenly cup of hot cocoa!
Hot cocoa is an antioxidant: Hot cocoa is high in antioxidants. According to Cornell University, cocoa is approximately two to three times more concentrated than green tea and four times stronger than black tea. And heating cocoa isn’t just a nice way to warm up on a freezing day, but it actually increases the amount of antioxidants that are released.
It has less fat: Though regular dark chocolate (70% cocoa) does contain antioxidants, hot cocoa offers more benefits due to its lower fat content.
Improves blood flow: Hot cocoa contains flavonoids that help the body process nitric oxide, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure and stress.
Helps you think better: The American Association for Advancement of Science, states that simply drinking hot chocolate can increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain, allowing for better cognitive function and better mental health.
It boosts your mood: Chocolate is of course infamous for being a “happy food”, and hot chocolate is no different. The yummy treat helps fight stress, reduce anxiety and alleviate depression through the stimulation of endorphins.
The trick to getting the full health gains of hot chocolate while avoiding excess sugar is to steer clear of most commercial cocoa mixes and instead make your own.
Here is a simple homemade hot cocoa recipe that provides all the benefits without the chemicals. Stay warm and start sipping’!
- 1 cup milk (or nut milk)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split
- 1-3 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces (adjust to taste)
Heat milk to scalding in a medium saucepan, add vanilla, and let steep with the heat off for 10 minutes. Strain and return milk to saucepan to reheat milk. (You can use 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract instead and skip the steeping process.) Whisk in chocolate until melted and frothy. Serve.