Do you know the difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate? Many people think they are the same but they are nutritionally on opposite ends of the spectrum. Hot chocolate is a sugar and fat filled mix that is mostly artificial chemicals and fillers with a chocolate taste.
Because chocolate is high in refined sugar and fat it is nutritionally void. However hot cocoa is the opposite. Nutritionally, hot cocoa is very beneficial. It is full of antioxidants and had been proven to be an extremely healthy food. Hot cocoa is naturally low in calories. You can make your own healthy hot beverage by adding cocoa powder and a small amount of sugar to milk, soy or even hot water.
Drinking hot cocoa has been around for centuries. Modern archaeologists have found evidence of cocoa beans in Olmec tombs as far back as 1500 BC. These ancient rulers drank a bitter mixture of hot water, cocoa powder and spices. The Mayans also fell in love with cocoa beans and developed a drink they named chocolatl.
These cacao beans were so valuable that they could be used as money. The rulers of the Mayan kingdom shared their love of cocoa with the Spanish who them brought it to Europe. It was in Europe that sugar was added and it became the drink we know as hot cocoa.
Cocoa became the Drink of the Gods
We think of hot cocoa as a desert drink but the original drink was a hot and spicy brew containing water, wine and peppers. The Mayan aristocracy had many variations of this beverage which they considered magic. After bringing the cocoa beans back to Europe sugar and milk were added to make a sweet after dinner beverage. Soon the general population could not get enough. Confectioners experimented with the cocoa powder and began making chocolate.
Nowadays people are discovering the powerful nutritional benefits of the cocoa bean. Recent research has found that the flavonoids in chocolate are more powerful than vitamins such as ascorbic acid in protecting circulating lipids from oxidation.
Researchers have discovered that people who eat chocolate and sweets up to three times each month live almost a year longer than people who eat too much or folks that steer clear of junk altogether. (This happy information is from a study done at the Harvard School of Public Health)
Are you Drinking Real Cocoa or just a sugar flavored brown drink?
Don't settle for fake hot chocolate when you can have real delicious and nutritious hot cocoa. Hot cocoa not only tastes better is is so much better for you. The best way to make sure you are getting the real deal is to start with quality cocoa powder. The best cocoa powder is dark brown and will taste bitter by itself.
You can make your won hot beverage by mixing this powder with hot water or just like when you were a kid: real milk. Milk substitutes like: soy milk, coconut milk or rice milk are great for those who are lactose intolerant or who just want to try something different. You can sweeten your drink by adding sugar, honey or agave nectar.
Cocoa contains several bioactive compounds that promote alertness, lessen pain and promote a natural feeling of well-being. For example, one such element, Tryptophan, reduces anxiety by producing serotonin. The compounds in cocoa also produce endorphins which lessen sensitivity to pain.
Scientists have labeled Cocoa "the new vitamin." Health experts are discovering that some of the chemicals in cocoa powder can have a positive effect on the heart and blood circulation.
Harvard researcher, Dr Vinson and his colleagues discovered that the flavonoids in chocolate are even more powerful than vitamins used for anti oxidation. Studies in Atherosclerosis show that the oxidation of lipoproteins is one of the ways that plaque clogs artery walls.
Food scientists from Cornell University state that they have discovered that cocoa has almost twice the antioxidants of red wine and nearly three times the antioxidents of green tea.
Drinking hot cocoa provides more antioxidants than simply eating chocolate candy. The heat releases more of the antioxidants. Some research indicates that ingesting dairy along with cocoa inhibits the absorption of the nutrients. You can get the most nutritional value by combining cocoa powder with a milk substitute like: coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk or even water.
Don't let the picture on the packet food you. Check the ingredients! The primary ingredient in most commercial hot chocolate mixes is sugar. The rest is fat, fillers and artificial flavors. Why settle for a facsimile when you can have the real deal? Real hot cocoa is not only better nutritionally it tastes better too!
The hot creamy cocoa you loved as a kid is now a health food. A guilt free pleasure that's good for you too. You can enjoy a rich cup of hot cocoa every day - just tell your friend it's a nutritional supplement.