Millions of Starbucks junkies can’t be wrong…can they?
Whether you brew it in your kitchen or buy it from a barista, each day in America, we drink 400 MILLION cups of coffee! Considering only 150 million Americans or 50% of the US population indulges, that’s a lot of java being brewed, poured, slung, iced, flavored, decaf, half-caf and mixed with good old cream and sugar. But did you know hot cocoa may be a much healthier choice for your morning pick-me-up than a cup of joe?
When it comes to hot chocolate vs. coffee, hot chocolate is the winner according to science!
6 Reasons Hot Chocolate is Healthier than Coffee
It has less caffeine.
A single-serving packet of hot chocolate mix contains between 5-70mg of caffeine, while a regular home-brewed cup of coffee could run anywhere from 95-200mg of caffeine! Knowing this, it makes the idea of hot chocolate being a better eye-opener than coffee seems a little sketchy. Until you consider in a recent scientific study undertaken in Greece (you know, the place that invented Western scientific method?) comparing chocolate vs. coffee researchers found that ingesting chocolate caused the forearm veins of test subjects to remain more flexible, while caffeine forced the forearm veins to expand and then stay there. The researchers believe this indicates that high caffeine consumption may be a risk factor for atherosclerosis, or hardening of the blood vessels…which is also a key indicator of risk of heart disease!
Hot Cocoa relieves stress.
Chocolate is well-known to be a mood enhancer and stress reliever. Unlike caffeine, which can cause heart palpitations and elevates blood pressure and stress, chocolate reduces stress and strain on the heart and cardiovascular system. This is because chocolate contains polyphenols or chemicals that work with the body to make people feel calmer.
Coffee or cocoa for coughing?
This is a trick question. Coffee does nothing to help a cough, although codeine does. Many people are afraid of codeine because it’s also a Schedule V narcotic with a high abuse potential. Unlike codeine, dark chocolate can help quiet and soothe a cough, without the unpleasant side effects.
Increases mental sharpness.
Unlike coffee, cocoa can help increase cognitive function, especially in older people. This seems to be a result of a subset of polyphenols known as flavanols. These compounds reduce the risk of stroke and have been shown in clinical studies to help increase mental acuity in patients with conditions like Alzheimer’s, to such a degree that some researchers are saying regular chocolate consumption may prevent Alzheimer’s from developing in the first place!
Pregnant? Maybe you should switch to hot chocolate!
Remember that chocolate has a lot lower caffeine content than coffee does. According to the March of Dimes, a pregnant woman can usually safely take in about 200mg of caffeine daily, but higher doses can lead to miscarriage and premature labor. In addition to the other health benefits of chocolate, the reduced caffeine content makes it easier for a growing baby and mother alike. Considering the known benefits, it seems likely that expecting mothers who drink cocoa instead of caffeine will also feel more relaxed, less tired and better able to deal with the stresses and strains of pregnancy, although as of press time there is no known study that has evaluated this.
As with anything else, if you are pregnant, you should speak to your healthcare provider concerning the potential risks and benefits of any change in your diet or lifestyle to you and your baby.
Going on a diet? Why not take some cocoa?
“Chocolate gives you pimples and makes you fat!” You’ve probably heard a version of this saying every single day since, well, forever, most likely from well-meaning adults. In reality, chocolate by itself does not do this. The artificially introduced oils and sugars in some kinds of chocolate can cause pimples and weight gain, but cocoa and chocolate, eaten in moderation, can increase that satisfied, “full” feeling and help you lose weight! This doesn’t mean you can eat five pounds of chocolate per day and expect the scale to go down, but it does mean that in conjunction with a sensible dietary and exercise plan and the guidance of your healthcare provider, you can use chocolate to your benefit.
Compare this to diet supplements and pills, many of which use caffeine as a stimulant. They can leave you feeling grouchy and irritable, as well as, other potential side effects of long-term caffeine usage. This may be one reason why people who rely on caffeine-based diet supplements are often cranky while dieting. Caffeine gives energy, but it also puts stress on the body and does nothing to make that salad you ate for lunch feel like “real food.”
A HEALTHIER HOT CHOCOLATE RECIPE
Here’s a great morning cocoa recipe to get your day started off on the right foot with a sweet, healthy treat!
- 16 ounces of hot water
- 2 tablespoons real unsweetened cocoa powder (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon honey (or more to taste)
- 1/4 cup milk (optional…I use coconut milk)
While your hot water is boiling, place your dry cocoa powder in the bottom of your cup. After your water boils, pour about 2 tablespoons of the hot water into the cup (if you use more or less cocoa powder, just use an equal amount of hot water here).
Using a spoon, stir the cocoa and water until smooth, to eliminate any lumps. Then fill your cup the rest of the way with hot water. You can also add almond, hazel or vanilla extract to give a little extra zip to your cocoa. Stir, sip and enjoy!
As you can see, cocoa wins handily in the epic showdown. Now that you know the answer to the age-old question, hot chocolate is healthier than coffee. You can amaze and make your friends jealous while feeling better than ever by enjoying your hot chocolate fix instead of caffeine for your morning boost!
Also published on Medium.