Contributing Gear Editor

Nothing beats a steaming mug of hot cocoa. Photo: Jody Marcon

The Inertia

There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than sipping a steaming cup of hot cocoa. Although hot chocolate is packed with sugar, there are some surprising health benefits to this holiday classic. Here are five health benefits of hot cocoa, so you can enjoy your chocolate guilt free this holiday season.

It’s Heart Healthy

According to Science Daily, hot chocolate contains more antioxidants than wine or tea. Antioxidants have been found to reduce LDL oxidation and preserve vasoreactivity as well as reduce the risk of plaque progression and rupture. Hot cocoa contains flavanols, which can minimize the risk of mental-stress induced cardiovascular events including heart disease, stroke, and thrombosis.

Can Help Combat Coughs

It’s cold and flu season and most of us will take any help we can get to combat that nagging cough. Do you ever crave a cup of hot cocoa when you’re feeling under the weather? Researchers at London’s Imperial College found that hot chocolate contains theobromine, an alkaloid in cocoa, that can repress coughs more effectively than codeine.

Helps Lower Blood Pressure

Many people battle high blood pressure but luckily, hot cocoa can help. Hot cocoa contains nitric oxide, which can loosen up arteries from fat storage, in turn promoting healthy blood pressure levels. Nutrients in hot chocolate also work to improve endothelial function, which is important for regulating blood clotting, assisting the body’s immune response, and controlling the amount of electrolytes and others substances that pass from the blood to the tissues.

Supports Weight Loss

A sugary drink supporting weight loss may sound like an oxymoron, but hot cocoa has been found to promote weight loss. Cocoa, one of the main ingredients in hot chocolate, can help regulate the use of energy, reduce appetite and inflammation, increase fat oxidation, and trick the stomach into feeling full. According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine, people that regularly consume chocolate tended to have a lower BMI than those that did not.

Helps Improve Mood

Sipping on a cup of cocoa is a cheery activity, but from a scientific standpoint, hot chocolate can help improve mood and symptoms of depression. Improved mood could be the result of hot cocoa’s flavanols, the caffeine it contains, or from the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer. So, if you’re feeling blue this holiday season, try whipping up some hot cocoa.


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