Chances are that you have had at least one cup of hot chocolate drink in recent times. Perhaps we should thank Winter for bringing that opportunity to us.
Hot chocolate has been around for centuries and so they are not some new drink that could cause us to raise our eyebrows. They are made from cocoa bean seeds. So, whether you are having a hot chocolate drink to keep warm during vacation or just to satisfy your cravings, the fact remains that hot chocolate has a wide beneficial use, especially in the aspects of health and wellness.
Also known as hot cocoa, the hot chocolate is more than just a dark powder and you would be amazed at the many benefits that the hot chocolate offers. So, if you do not yet know about these benefits, not to worry, this article has got you covered. We discuss 10 whopping benefits that hot chocolate offers.
It promises to be a fun read. So, grab some snacks and a hot chocolate drink as we explore!
Hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate or cocoa powder, milk, and water. And just as its name depicts, it has to be prepared with steaming hot water. While this drink can be consumed in its plain form, that is, without any toppings, you can also choose to add some sweeteners and toppings to make it more appealing. But mostly, it is usually prepared with less sweetener and of thicker consistency.
Now that you know what hot chocolate consists of and how it is being prepared, let’s get into the real deal – the benefits of hot chocolate.
10 Benefits of hot chocolate
A cup of hot chocolate comes with a lot of benefits to the body, especially in terms of health and nutrition. It is worthy of note that a cup of hot chocolate could help improve your mood and set your day for a good start. So, this section contains 10 benefits of hot chocolate. Let’s explore;
Improves cognitive function
: Hot chocolate is made from processed cocoa bean seeds. Several studies have found cocoa to contain a high level of flavonols, which helps increase vasodilation and blood flow to the brain and in turn, improves brain function. Consuming hot chocolate can stimulate the learning and memory regions of the brain to create new blood vessels and neurons.
Improves blood flow
: Hot chocolate is rich in flavanols which help improve the blood flow in the brain. This could help eliminate diseases associated with old age such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and the risk of memory loss. Remember the saying, two hot chocolates a day keeps dementia away? Well, that phrase applies here and we hope you take it literally this time.
Reduces the risks of heart disease and stroke
: Cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease and stroke, remains the leading cause of morbidity worldwide. Heart diseases such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, and heart failure have an aggravating impact on health. However, choice of lifestyles and medications can help prevent these conditions as they occur. The flavanol-rich cocoa increase vasodilation and blood flow throughout the body in prehypertensive and hypertensive patients. The key lifestyle elements involved in the prevention and control of cardiometabolic disease. Hot chocolate has steadily gained attention for its potential benefits in cardiometabolic health. Looking for the most popular dietary drink around you? Then the hot chocolate is your best bet.
Lowers blood pressure
: Nitric oxide, which stimulates vasodilation in individuals, is mixed into the chemically dense flavanol chocolate beverage. That is, the nutrients contained in just one cup of hot chocolate can help to relax the arteries from the buildup of fat thus, improving a normal blood pressure range. Also, the cocoa ingredient in hot chocolate helps to improve endothelium function. So, whenever you are craving sweet foods or drinks, rather than indulge in junk or soda, you can replace them with some hot chocolate instead of eating something sweet to help your body by lowering blood sugar levels.
Promotes cardiometabolic health
: The cardiometabolic benefits of chocolate intake are biologically plausible. Chocolate contains an abundant source of flavanols such as epicatechin , catechin , and procyanidins . The flavanols may offer cardiometabolic protection through several mechanisms, including antihypertensive, antiplatelet, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects .
: Cocoa which is the main constituent of hot chocolate is rich in flavanol and polyphenol and acts as a defense against the imbalance of insulin in the body, in turn, lowers the blood sugar level. So, if you have diabetes or you know someone who does, introduce hot chocolate to them and you would be sure of helping them lower their risks of developing complications resulting from diabetes.
Reduces the risk of cancer
: The flavanols in cocoa bean seeds, which is the main ingredient of hot chocolate contain antioxidant properties that can help combat the risk of cancer. The antioxidants work by reducing damage to cells. Fermented cocoa contains high quantities of flavonols , catechin , and procyanidins that can help protect the body from the destructive effects of free radicals which cause some types of cancer.
Prevents dry skin
: Who does not love to have glowing skin? Almost everyone desires a pretty-looking skin , one that attracts compliments now and then. The skin is the largest in the body and covers the entire external surface of the body. The structure of the skin consists of a complex network barrier that protects the body against pathogens, UV lights and chemicals, and mechanical injury. Cocoa which is the main ingredient in hot chocolate is rich in antioxidants and flavanols and they help repair skin damage caused by exposure to harmful UV rays and environmental toxins. Cocoa also contains theobromine . Theobromine acts as a vasodilator and helps to increase the flow of blood to the surface of the skin. The increasing flow of blood to the surface helps to lock moisture in thereby stopping the skin from drying out.
Reduces wrinkles and fine lines
: As we grow older, our skin starts to feel saggy and loose thereby resulting in wrinkles and fine lines in conspicuous areas of our skin including the face and back of our hands. In severe cases, wrinkles are associated with old age. However, this can be reduced. The cacao plant contains vitamin C and magnesium, both of which keep the skin healthy. Cocoa also contains minerals like calcium, copper, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc. Cocoa is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which assist skin healing at the cellular level- one of the ways to reduce scars. Healthy consumption of hot chocolate can help reduces wrinkles and fine lines as well as help maintain glowing skin and a youthful radiant appearance.
: Hot chocolate improves mood and lower mood swings. In our everyday activities, our moods and energies can influence our day either positively or negatively. But you don’t have to wait till this happens before you reach for a cup of hot chocolate. Hot chocolate contains polyphenols that release happy hormones that calm down the turbulence in your mood. There are so many distractions out there that could drain your mood but you can make yourself a cup of rich hot chocolate to get your mind away from the chaos.
In addition, hot chocolate is one of the best drinks you can consume when sick to recuperate. So, you want to ensure you are consuming the right amount of hot chocolate and in an adequate proportion. Moreover, you do not have to break the bank before preparing a cup of hot chocolate. Any type of chocolate can be used, be it dark, semisweet, or bittersweet chocolate. Crush or break the chocolate into small pieces and use it to prepare your hot chocolate drink. As mentioned earlier, you can choose to consume it as an instant hot chocolate or you can add milk and sugar to impro ve its taste.
The seemingly exciting satisfaction relished by taking a cup of hot chocolate cannot be overemphasized. With its numerous nutritious and health benefit, you sure do not want to miss out on preparing a hot chocolate drink for yourself. However, the consumption of hot chocolate must be in moderation. Although there are several ways to enjoy hot chocolate, it is totally up to you to choose the way you wish to enjoy yours. The main deal is to enjoy all benefits contained in this drink.