By Claire Alongi,
The holiday season may have come to an end, but winter is still upon us. As the cold weather persists, consider this: next time you feel a bone-chilling breeze, don’t reach for a coffee. Grab a cup of hot cocoa instead.
According to the National Coffee Association, 54 percent of Americans age 18 or older drink coffee daily; they consume an average of 3.1 cups (9 oz) daily. Cutting back on coffee will be hard work, but it’s worth it.
There’s multitudes of research that herald the health benefits of chocolate. Cornell University has released a study that states hot chocolate has higher levels of antioxidants than red wine, and, surprisingly, even more than tea. Increased levels of antioxidants like those present in hot chocolate can help prevent cancer and heart disease.
In addition, a study conducted by researchers at Harvard showed that drinking hot cocoa can help improve memory. Researchers had senior citizens drink two cups of hot chocolate a day for a month, and found that the subjects performed better on memory tests than their non-cocoa drinking counterparts. Those that drank cocoa also had increased blood flow to the brain.
And while coffee can be a great pick-me-up, it may be doing more harm than good.
According to Livestrong, coffee can raise cholesterol and the caffeine in it heightens blood pressure. The University of Arizona states that drinking coffee can put the drinker at increased risk for dehydration while, according to the American Heart Association, people that drink coffee can also experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.
Plus, with hot chocolate, there’s no need to buy fancy machines or trek into Starbucks on the daily in order to get a custom tall mocha frappuccino, two shots of espresso, with extra whip. Instead, brands like Ghirardelli offer premium powdered hot chocolate that are flavorful and easy to prepare at home by simply boiling water and adding the powder. An even healthier option is to buy unsweetened cocoa powder, and a dash of sugar to your concoction.
Hot cocoa may not have the same energy boost that the caffeine in coffee gives, but that enticing chocolate aroma, satisfying taste of sweetness, and rich creamy texture are enough to brighten any early morning or rainy afternoon.