Chocolates are always considered as comfort food for indulgence. It is even believed by some as food of the gods. We love it in all forms, be it a big shiny slab or a gourmet dessert or even hot chocolate. But, it is surprising as to how little we know of its benefits. Cocoa beans, which is the source for cocoa is packed with both macro and micro nutrients and are a good source of antioxidants. Since hot chocolate or cocoa is low on sugar and fat than the other forms, it is considered the best way to get all the benefits of cocoa. A cup of hot cocoa is no longer just another beverage but a stress buster, brain booster and a solution to your skin and blood pressure related problems.
1. Hot cocoa ranks higher than red wine and tea in anti oxidants
Antioxidant components include phenols and flavinoids. These are known for their health benefits like fighting cancer, aging and heart diseases. Recent research has shown that hot chocolate has higher concentration of antioxidant than both red wine and tea. In fact, some results show that the antioxidant content is almost twice. Cocoa can be taken in various forms like hot chocolate, cold chocolate, chocolate bar, dessert etc but the most beneficial form is hot chocolate. The antioxidant content is high and its fat and sugar contents are low. Moreover, heat in the cocoa helps in better release of the antioxidants making hot cocoa even better than cold cocoa. A healthier option is using soy milk or skim milk and artificial sweeter instead of regular milk and sugar.
2. Hot chocolate is a natural anti depressant
Chocolates are considered as anti depressants but chocolate bars are also high on calories and fats. The cocoa beans from which chocolates are made are packed with vitamins and chemicals that help in fighting depression. The chemical components include tryptophan which improves or elevates the mood, theobromine and caffeine which act as stimulants. In addition to these, the carbohydrates in cocoa increase the neurotransmitters and endorphins which have a feel good effect and reduce pain. Cocoa also contains vitamin E, D and B complex. Hot chocolate is definitely one of the best way to get all these benefits and is much healthier than other forms of cocoa. Like all other good things, the key here is to take in things in moderation.
3. Hot cocoa keeps sun tanning at bay:
Regular intake of hot cocoa is all you need to keep your skin healthy, younger, well hydrated and smooth. It even makes your skin less prone to the sun tan and protects it from the harmful effects. Flavonols are components found in cocoa that aids in better functioning of blood vessels, improves the texture and hydration of the skin and helps in improving the blood flow to the skin. Research shows that high flavonol diet helps in keeping the skin healthy, reduces the skin tan and protects it from UV damage. Just make sure you buy good quality cocoa as they are high in antioxidants like flavonols.
4. Hot cocoa improves brain performance:
Hot cocoa is not just a stress reliever but a brain booster. Recent research has shown that regular in take of cocoa improves the cognitive performance and plays a vital role in fighting decline in cognition with age. The cognitive decline with age is attributed to low micro nutrients and antioxidant consumption. Cocoa is rich in all these and thus helps in improving the cognition. Another research states that for brain to perform well, it has to be relaxed and needs a good supply of oxygen. Cocoa contains flavonols that help relax the blood vessels, which in turn improves the blood supply and oxygen to brain thereby enabling it to function better.
The real benefits of cocoa can be enjoyed by using good quality cocoa, taken in moderation. Diet and lifestyle also have to be healthy.