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There's nothing like warming up with a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter's day. It may seem like a whim, but the cold day treat actually has a host of health benefits. Cocoa powder contains powerful antioxidants, and many studies have shown beneficial effects on heart health, insulin levels, memory, and more (we are talking about cocoa, not sugar chocolate).
A 2013 study published in the journal Neurology found a correlation between drinking hot chocolate and boosted memory, suggesting that drinking two cups a day could help stave off Alzheimer's.
"As different areas of the brain need more energy to complete their tasks, they also need greater blood flow. This relationship, called neurovascular coupling, may play an important role in diseases such as Alzheimer's," Dr. Paul Rosenberg of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine told the Daily Mail. Cocoa's ability to increase blood flow is thought to be at the root of its memory-enhancing abilities.
Chocolate contains many secrets to happiness. Not only does it taste delicious, but it has quite the positive effect on your brain. It releases certain neurotransmitters that make you feel comfortable and happy, and can even reduce pain and stress.
Chocolate makes you feel good because it contains energy-boosting caffeine, mood-lightening serotonin, and relaxing tryptophan, the Washington Post explains.
For the healthiest hot cocoa, the key is to make your own using unsweetened cocoa powder or 85 percent dark chocolate. For a lower-fat version, go with a plant-based milk. Sweeten to your taste with natural sweeteners like honey and pure maple syrup, but don't go overboard. Last but not least, enjoy your guilt-free treat!
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