For many people, hot chocolate is closely tied to nostalgia and memories of childhood, and that is a good enough reason to indulge in sipping a hot cup of the beverage during the winter. However, there are some other nutritional benefits that can justify drinking it instead of a more “adult” drink. When properly prepared, hot chocolate has a number of potential health benefits. Hot chocolate can be made from cacao or cocoa and be equally nutritious. The primary difference is in the heating process when the beans are processed while. One can be just as nutritious as the other. The thing to look for is the percentage of cacao; the more cacao, the greater the benefits. If you purchase cocoa, check to see what else has been added. Often labeled as “hot cocoa mix,” these powders usually have additives like sugar and milk in them. Keep this in mind when you add other sweeteners or milk to your drink.
Hot chocolate contains antioxidants and flavanols. Antioxidants can help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as reduce inflammation. Flavanols can not only help reduce blood pressure, they can reduce a number of health risks, including cancer, heart attacks, and strokes. They can also enhance moods and cognitive abilities. Cacao beans are rich in several important minerals: calcium, copper, magnesium, and potassium.
Adding hot milk instead of water provides additional health benefits, which most people already know well, such as the fact that milk has calcium and protein. The amount of protein doesn’t change based on the milk’s percentage you drink; that mostly just changes how creamy the texture of the hot chocolate is. For those who need a different alternative to dairy products (such as almond, soy, and hemp), many of the alternatives have the same nutritional benefits as drinking dairy milk. Some milk alternatives also have fiber, which is absent from dairy milk.
To learn more about why you should be able to drink a bit more hot chocolate over the cold winter months, read through All the Delicious Ways Hot Chocolate Is Really Good for You. It’s delicious and a bit more nutritious than you may have realized.