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Warm up to Hot Cocoa

Hot chocolate is one of life’s simple pleasures and one that definitely makes November through February more enjoyable. But did you know that a daily mug of hot chocolate could help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer? A Cornell University study found that hot cocoa contains a higher concentration of cancer-fighting antioxidants than antioxidant favorites green tea or red wine—concentrations two to three times stronger than that of green tea and almost twice as strong as red wine.

Antioxidants are those chemicals that have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease, and aging by reducing the number of free radicals in the body.

Hot cocoa serves up all the benefits of chocolate without the fat: only 0.3 grams of fat are in an average cup of hot cocoa, compared to 8 grams of saturated fat in a normal 40-gram bar of chocolate. The benefits keep heating up when the cocoa does…more antioxidants are released when the drink is hot.

To get the most out of your mug, choose your cocoa carefully. Commercial instant hot cocoa mixes often feature more sugar than cocoa. The lower cocoa is on the list of ingredients, the fewer the benefits. The hot cocoa tested in the study consisted of a cup of hot water with two tablespoons of pure cocoa powder—the same amount of cocoa in a packet of instant hot chocolate, but not the same amount of sugar. Skim milk and zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia can make hot cocoa healthier. And hold the marshmallows.

Source: Lee, Chang Yong; Lee, Ki Won; Lee, Hyong Joo ; Kim, Young Jun. “Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. American Chemical Society.


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