Hot cocoa good for you? You bet

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Good news for cold winter weather folks who relish hot chocolate.

Cornell University research looked at how red wine, green tea and hot cocoa compare in antioxidants.

Using similar serving sizes and conditions, the researchers compared a normal-sized packet of instant hot chocolate, a cup of hot water containing a standard size bag of green tea, a cup of black tea, and a glass of wine (California Merlot).

On a per serving basis, hot chocolate was the winner.

In fact, the antioxidant concentration in cocoa was almost two times stronger than in red wine, two-three times stronger than green tea, and four-five times stronger than in black tea.

The researcher, Chang Y. (Cy) Lee, Chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the university's New York State Agriculture Experiment Station, noted that drinking it hot tends to release more antioxidants.

So, what if I just got my chocolate from a candy bar instead?

Lee says that it is wiser to go with the "drinkable stuff."

A normal 40-gram bar of chocolate contains about 8 grams of saturated fat, compared to only .3 grams in an average cup of hot cocoa.

Now, what is it that antioxidants do for me?

Well, those found cocoa "scavenge for free radicals ... which are potential factors resulting in cancer, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, and weakening of the immune system."

Our bodies have antioxidant enzymes such as Vitamin E, C, A and beta carotene at work, and a good variety of fruits and vegetables provide other food sources.

Frequent use of cocoa for its antioxidant qualities deserves an eye toward overall health as well.

We can avoid extra sugar with artificial sweetners, check for lower fat ingredients, and vary for fun with some of the following recipes which include spices that contribute benefits of their own.

Hot Cocoa Mix


* 2 1/2 cups non-fat dry milk powder,

* 1/2 cup fat-free powdered nondairy creamer (choose a flavor you like),

* 1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa (unsweetened),

* Sugar substitute such as Splenda equivalent to 1/2 cup sugar, and

* 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional).


* In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients; mix well.

If you do not have the nondairy creamer, substitute an additional 1/2 cup dry milk powder,

* Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to six months. Yield 2-3/4 cups (about eight servings), and

* To prepare hot cocoa: Dissolve 1/3 cup mix in 1 cup boiling water; stir well. Yield: 1 serving.

Nutritional analysis: One serving (one cup prepared hot cocoa) equals 101 calories, 1 gram fat (trace saturated fat), 3 mg cholesterol, 94 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 7 g protein. Diabetic Exchange: 1 fat-free milk.

Adapted from:

Mayan Hot Chocolate


* 1 cup milk,

* 3 tablespoons instant hot chocolate mix,

* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and

* 1 pinch cayenne pepper.


Mix the hot chocolate mix, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper together in a mug.

Pour the milk into a glass measuring cup.

Heat in microwave on high until it begins to boil (about two minutes).

Slowly pour the mixture in the mug, stirring with a small whisk as you pour. Enjoy immediately.

This one is higher in calories (224) and carbs (34), but is still a good source of protein (10 grams).

Adapted from:

Aztec Chocolate and Spanish Chocolate Drink Recipes


* 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate,

* 1 teaspoon vanilla,

* 2/3 cup boiling water,

* Ground pepper/chilies to taste (or that pinch of cayenne pepper).

Aztec Chocolate Recipe

Grate the unsweetened chocolate into a bowl and cover it with a little of the boiling water.

Mash the mixture into a paste.

Add the rest of the water and vanilla and beat with a drink blender until frothy.

Add the pepper/chilies to liven up the drink.

The chocolate will not totally dissolve and will have a grittiness to it.

For a more authentic drink, let the mixture cool and then beat until frothy and drink.

Spanish Chocolate Recipe

Follow the directions for the Aztec Chocolate, omitting the pepper and chilies and add 3 teaspoons of sugar, plus a dash of cinnamon.

Adapted from:


Other sources: http://news.cornell/edu/releases/Nov03/HotCocoa-Lee.bpf.html;

You can call us at the Extension Offices in Clay and Owen counties for more information or to talk about other issues that affect your home and family.

Call the Owen County office at 812-829-5020 or the Clay County office at 448-9041.

There is an Indiana Extension Homemaker Club near you.

Purdue Extension is an affirmative action/equal opportunity institution.