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Yes, hot cocoa is delicious, but did you know that it can also be good for you?
This perfect wintertime treat might be less indulgent than you think.
Just as the sound of an ice cream truck in summer can still cause you to experience the exact same sense of uninhibited glee it produced in you when you were seven, drinking a mug of hot cocoa after a day spent in the unbearable winter cold can be as comforting and delicious as it was when you were a kid.
10 Surprising Reasons Hot Chocolate is Good For Your Health (Slideshow)
While winter might feel as though it is dragging interminably on and on, hot chocolate — a treat that really loses its appeal in the heat of summer — is the best aspect of the snowy, slushy, frostbitten, pretty unpleasant part of the year.
Historically, chocolate was originally sipped, not nibbled. Initially developed by the Mayans nearly 2,000 years ago, a spiced drinking chocolate later became popular with the Aztecs. Today, it is popular around the world. In Spain, hot chocolate is pudding-thick and served with churros as a morning treat. In Peru, it is a traditional part of Christmas breakfast.
But did you know that hot chocolate can also be good for you health? It used to be thought that the drink could heal stomach ailments, and while that might not be quite accurate, this rich and delicious beverage is; in fact, packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, and calcium.
The most healthful versions of hot chocolate uses 2 percent or whole milk and a mix of real dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and as low dose a level of sugar as you can stand (consider swapping out agave in place of cane sugar). Most powdered hot chocolate mixes you get pre-made will not have the same kind of health benefits.
5 reasons hot cocoa is good for you
High antioxidants in cocoa help prevent cancer, heart disease and aging, and dark chocolate can reduce stress.
We relish hot cocoa for warming our bellies and spirits on cold winter days, but this ancient drink also can be good for you. Here are five reasons to rank hot cocoa as healthful:
Cold brew tea
Cold brewing tea works best with loose leaf tea (you can snip open a tea bag and use the insides if you don't have loose leaf on hand).
Use about a teaspoon of tea for each cup depending on how strong you like your tea. Cover and keep in the refrigerator. Steep green tea for about 6 – 8 hours although black tea and oolong will need a little longer, about 8 – 10 hours.
Before serving strain out the tea leaves and add in your flavor of choice: slices of lemons, fresh mint leaves or honey. I like it best with lots of ice.
I eat a lot of salad and this vinaigrette has become a bit of a go to in my house recently. It's super simple and quick to make. Olive oil, white vinegar, vanilla extract, salt and pepper (I leave the sugar out but if you like it a bit sweeter go for it). Vanilla vinaigrette is particular good to dress a summer salad with berries, citrus and pecans.
Some other tips for good vocal health
- Stay hydrated. This is probably one of the most important tips as well-hydrated vocal cords vibrate more easily than dry ones.
- Avoid black tea, coffee, cream and alcohol before singing or presenting as these will cause the vocal cords to constrict and can have a dehydrating effect.
- Smoke is the biggest vocal cord irritant – if you need yet another good reason to quit.
- Limit the use of air conditioning.
- Avoid screaming and yelling. If your vocal cords are really strained, try emailing or texting to go them a rest.
- Avoid throat clearing and coughing. Instead swallow with effort using warm water or Fontus throat lozenges as an aid.
- If you are a performer, presenter or teacher, rest your voice and give it a five-minute break, every couple of hours.
8 Reasons Hot Tubs Are Good For Your Health
Soaking in a tub is actually good for your health. Water therapy has been one of the most popular forms of keeping young, healthy, and thriving for centuries.
From the Japanese tradition of “onsen” (bathing) to Roman bath-houses, spending time soaking in a tub of water has long proved to be a sensational luxury to people of all cultures and generations and benefits of hot tub use is no different.
Add in the mix that in modern times, they have become technologically advanced, affordable, and commonplace among homeowners… which makes it easier than ever to unwind.
So next time you’re wondering whether or not you should spend some time soaking up that warmth, consider these 8 health hot tub benefits…
1. Hot Tubs Can Elevate Your Mood
This one seems pretty obvious… Who doesn’t feel good by getting into a nice, cozy spa? so this is top of our hot tub benefits. A study was done by psychologist Neil Morris (in which he studied 80 people) which looked at how they can affect your mood.
From the 80 people surveyed, he found that hot tubs “diminished feelings of depression and pessimism”. From his research, he found that the feeling of being submerged into a warm body of water actually brings us a similar feeling of being in the womb, pre-birth, which is rather comforting.
There you have it! Hot tubs actually create a feeling of ease and comfort, allowing your body and mind to relax while elevating your overall mood. Check out our best hot tub accessories for the ultimate relexation experience.
2. They Decrease Anxiety And Stress
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s hard not to get stressed out so this has made second place onto our hot tubs health benefits.
With everyone scurrying about to their 9 to 5’s every day, being jolted awake by a nasty alarm, rushing out the door, speeding through the morning commute (with potential rush-hour traffic), while still managing a home and family life after work – it’s difficult to stay in peace.
Between the demands of a boss and a family, and everything in between, in order to stay sane, you need to have some way to de-stress. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a way to just let it all go and reset while enjoying the benefits of a hot tub? You can do exactly that with the perfect inflatable model.
While improving your overall mood, hot tubs also help to de-stress and relieve anxiety.
Multiple studies have shown that hydrotherapy is an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety while improving your overall psychological state and is one of the great health benefits.
Before leaving for work in the morning, if you can squeeze in even 10 minutes, it will set you on a smooth path to sail through the rest of your workday. Or, if you don’t have time in the morning, take 10-15 minutes after work, in the evening, to unwind.
Combining the soothing warm water and relaxing jets can double down on taking you into a perfectly relaxed state, allowing you to forget about the non-stop rush of demands that your workday demands.
3. You’ll Sleep Much Better
Do you ever have trouble sleeping?
Next on our list of jacuzzi benefits, we say jacuzzi because they are one of the same thing, just like spa benefits, they are all mean the same so it doesn’t matter what you call them the health benefits do not change.
If you’re like most people, it’s one of the most challenging aspects of daily living. In the fast-paced world, we live in, with our 9 to 5’s – combined with the continuous ringing of our smartphones and indulgent screen time, our minds are constantly being stimulated.
So the health benefits of hot tubs are that they are able to take your body into a state of relaxation that is necessary to get a good night’s sleep. With just the right temperature you might get what 1000s in Therapy fees couldn’t. A peaceful slumber.
Most of the time, difficulty getting to sleep has a lot to do with overthinking and trying to “shut the brain off” from the thoughts of our day.
Dipping into a spa allows the mind and body to become relaxed which essentially takes away the constant firing of brain cells in order to get a good sleep putting it as another one of our top benefits of spa use.
Try not to get in right before bed though, as the body needs to be slightly cooler to get a good night’s rest. It’s best to hop in a few hours before sleeping. Try to be out at least an hour before you fall asleep to give your body time to cool down again.
4. Help Relieve Your Muscle Pain
If you deal with back pain, neck pain, or just about any pain in your body, then you’ll be amazed at how easily a hot tub can take away those body aches. We are sure that there are plenty of you out there that will really appreciate this hot tub benefit.
Allowing your body to heat up increases blood flow (which improves circulation), and allows sore and tight muscles to relax. If you sit in a chair for most of the day at your office or wake up with neck and back pain from a night of bad sleep, then taking 15 minutes to relax in one will allow your tight muscles to loosen up.
It’s also perfect for athletes and those that work out frequently who are dealing with stiffness and tight muscles from exercise. Rather than going right for pharmaceutical pain relievers, soak in the spa for a while. It offers up one of the most effective (and natural) pain relievers known to man.
5. Hot Tubs Burn Calories
Could this really be one of the health benefits of hot tubs? Yes… You can have your hot tub and lose weight too…
A researcher at Loughborough University, Steve Faulkner conducted a study about hot tubs and hot tub benefits and found some stunning results. He discovered that a soaking session burned as many calories as a mild, 30-minute walk.
It was found that a 150-pound person can (on average) burn about 17 calories by relaxing in a hot tub for just 15 minutes. You won’t necessarily start shedding dozens of pounds by soaking in your tub once a week, but it is one of the easiest ways to shed some extra calories – keeping you in shape throughout the week.
Over the past 9 years, I have worked as a retailer for some great hot tub manufacturers across the USA. Starting with a family business and working my way up to working with some of the best hot tub brands around the world – you could say I know a thing or two!
So, back to the question
Dark chocolate, she said, is now described as healthy, or at least healthier, because it’s made mostly of cocoa which contains flavonoids also found in fruits, vegetables, tea red wine and beer. Some flavonoids have positive health benefits – anti-viral, anti-allergy, anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and antioxidant. These antioxidants may help protect against diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes.
Urban urges caution with how much you consume. Even though dark chocolate may appear healthier it’s still prudent to watch intake since it’s also high in calories.
“You can’t say ‘I can eat all the dark chocolate I want’ since too many calories of anything leads to weight gain,” she said. “Also, it’s not the most yummy thing to eat since it has a bitter taste. I prefer a truffle vs. dark chocolate because it’s got more milk and fat in it! The more fat and sugar, you increase calories and benefits go down.”
Why Schools are Now Banning Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
In 1976, Richard Montanez was a janitor at a Frito-Lay factory. He didn’t speak much English and didn’t have a high school diploma. Now, he’s known as one of the most influential Hispanics in corporate America. How did this happen?
A Cheeto machine broke. The Cheetos came out cheese-less that day. Richard took them home, added some chile powder, and BAM—Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were born.
It’s the perfect rags to riches tale, but I wasn’t aware of it until recently. Yes, I ate Hot Cheetos growing up, but it wasn’t because of their inspiring backstory—it was because of the taste and the way Hot Cheetos brought people together in tears of joy and spiciness.
These merry moments of tearful camaraderie may be coming to an end, though. Over the last few years, schools have been banning Hot Cheetos. Why?
- They’re addictive.
- They have poor nutritional value.
- Kids are eating more than the recommended portions.
Photo by Elizabeth Layman
Photo by Elizabeth Layman
These reasons, though valid, seem like they also apply to many other snacks. Like any other hot food, it’s a good idea to be smart when you eat Hot Cheetos. Parents probably shouldn’t be feeding them to their infants, and kids’ family members should be teaching them to eat the snacks in a way that is both fun and mindful of their health. Again, this is true about many snacks, so, why is Chester Cheetah getting all the heat?
One thing is for sure, though. The kids aren’t letting this ban get the best of them. At home, they’re uploading videos on Youtube of Hot Cheeto eating contests. At school, too, they’re continuing to eat the red-hot snacks. Rita Exposito, principal of Jackson Elementary School in Pasadena, California, says, “We don’t encourage other chips, but if we see Hot Cheetos, we confiscate them—sometimes after the child has already eaten most of them.”
I understand the health concerns, but it’d be hard for an old fan like me to see these fiery snacks made of chile powder and the American Dream go.
Healthier Hot Dog Alternatives
If you have a hankering for a hot dog, the good news is that there are some better alternatives available.
“Not As Terrible” Conventional Hot Dogs
If you absolutely can’t stand the thought of parting with animal-based hot dogs, you can mitigate your risk in a couple of ways.
First, try to find locally-sourced hot dogs, perhaps produced on a local organic farm. Ask the farmer about ingredients and their manufacturing process. Look for uncured hot dogs, which don’t contain nitrates. To ensure that you’re not getting a product full of trimmings and various animals, look for hot dogs that state they are “100% chicken” or “100% beef.”
Read the ingredient list thoroughly for things you might want to avoid. For example, MSG, artificial or “natural” flavorings, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup or other sweetening agents.
And remember the dose-response effect: the fewer hot dogs you eat, the lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, allergic reactions, and those alarming rubberband and glass sightings.
Plant-Based Hot Dogs
You can easily find these hot dogs at most stores today. Many varieties use peas, soy, or gluten as their main source of protein instead of meat. It’s true that plant-based hot dogs provide a more sustainable, more ethical, and less carcinogenic option than meat hot dogs. However, most of the fake meat dogs on the market are still highly processed and are far from being true “health foods.”
I have yet to see carrot dogs sold in stores, but you can easily make them at home. And they’re really delicious! All you do is peel some large carrots, boil them until soft, marinate them for several hours in the fridge, and roast them in the oven. You can serve them with all of your favorite hot dog toppings.
Here’s a great carrot dog recipe from Kim Campbell, author of the PlantPure Nation Cookbook.
Homemade Veggie Dogs
Here’s a great recipe to make plant-based hot dogs at home, by Fat-Free Vegan, though it is high in gluten. In fact, it uses vital wheat gluten as the main protein source and a binding agent, along with oats, flax seed, and a variety of seasonings. Make sure to choose an organic variety of vital wheat gluten in order to avoid GMOs and glyphosate exposure.
So while Winter is still here, let’s take a short break from our nearly year-long run of coronavirus coverage.
One of the great things that every season brings us is the food and drink that is traditional to it.
And the interesting questions of why we’ve been doing it that way for so long.
One of the best culinary traditions we have from Wintertime is: Drinking Hot Cocoa!
It turns out that depending on what kind you can get, you might be doing yourself a huge favor and not just your taste buds…
The Short Answer:
- Let’s take a short break from coronavirus coverage.
- Seasonal food & drink is awesome stuff.
- The reasons we eat & drink it might be even more interesting.
- Hot cocoa might be much more interesting & healthy than something that just tastes good.
- Maybe ancient man like the Aztecs liked it for some very intuitive-reasons.
- Hot cocoa and dark chocolate can cause an endorphin rush.
- We might even drink it to get rid of the winter blues.
- But it also contains magic compounds called flavanols (or flavonoids).
- These compounds are common to all SuperFoods.
- The study showed it improves oxygenation in the brain.
- It happens 60 seconds faster and 300% more.
- Subjects drinking high-flavanol cocoa completed challenging mental tasks 11% faster.
- It seems to also affect the newest & most-creative part of the brain more.
- Many foods we eat that have anti-oxidants also do other great things.
- CocoaVia seems to be one of the few suppliers of high-flavanol cocoa products, but they’re expensive.
- It may be possible to achieve similar effects to their products by using 2Tbsp of natural cocoa.
- High cocoa-content chocolate bars are tough to stomach.
- Perhaps experiments on other high-flavanol/oid foods can yield similar results at lower costs with fewer calories.
Read on to find out the details…
&rarr Show/Hide Table Of Contents &larr
Ancient Man Was Pretty Clever. Drinking God-Mode:
So ever since explorers came to the new world and found indigenous peoples whipping up some kick-butt cocoa drinks,
The world has had a fascination with chocolate.
Strangely enough, just as we keep learning new lessons today that Ancient Man was not stupid,
Those crazy Aztecs might have really been onto something when the called hot cocoa, “The drink of the gods”.
Because, not only can you catch a serious endorphin Buzz off of really dark chocolate,
It’s probably doing a lot more and not just from the sugar.
Seasonally-Beneficial Endorphin Rush And More:
So yes, chocolate does release endorphins in quantities you can actually notice,
Especially if it’s Dark and not Milk, or that rectangular war-crime some people refer to as White Chocolate.
Now we might have been seasonally-attracted to a drink that could help us knock-out the Winter Blues,
Because how often do we drink hot cocoa in the sunny months when people don’t have SAD anymore?
And even though it probably won’t help you shake off “Long COVID” brain fog,
The University of Birmmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise, & Rehabilitation Sciences found that key components in hot cocoa actually Do make your brain work better.
Flavanols Are The Key Ingredient In Many SuperFoods:
But in another super-post, we found that Flavonoids & Flavanols are at the center of many real-world SuperFoods.
These compounds are generally associated with these common properties:
But for us, they do so much more.
They also happen to be the thing Birmingham’s team found was at the center of hot cocoa’s impressive effects.
Impressive Study Results, Even In Tough Conditions:
So in a small study of almost 20 healthy males, aged 18-40,
Subjects were given either normal cocoa, or high-flavanol cocoa.
Then in both tests, they were asked to complete a series of increasingly-complex cognitive tasks.
To check their theories about what the flavanols were doing, both infrared measures of circulation,
And making the subjects breathe in carbon dioxide at a concentration 100x the normal amount in breathing air,
Were both used as indicators.
Cocoa Is Surprisingly Healthy & Brainy For Most People:
The results show that for complex cognitive tasks, subjects drinking cocoa with extra flavanols had both a 3x higher and 60-second faster oxygenation response in their blood,
When the artificially-increased intake of carbon-dioxide should have lowered it.
Not only that, but the study also showed the quickest & most-affected areas in the brain were the higher-reasoning centers of the prefrontal cortex,
That newest part of the brain that’s right behind your forehead and does most of the really fancy stuff like inventing Pixar.
Because of this, the subjects drinking the fancier cocoa completed cognitively-taxing tasks 11% faster than those drinking the regular stuff.
And strangely-enough one other group of subjects showed no response at-all.
Those were speculated to be a group of individuals who were already in fantastic cardiovascular shape.
So, at least for the short-term, it seems there might be a limit to what cocoa-flavanols can do.
SuperFoods & Flavanols. Interestingly Coincidental:
What’s great about this is other studies have shown that flavanol intake can help improve circulation almost as much as prescription medication.
They are concentrated in different forms in several different SuperFoods.
And cocoa was just one of them.
Not only that, but if you look back at the properties of Flavonoids/ols an interesting thing we’ve all heard a million times-over really sticks-out:
So, if we eat foods with anti-oxidants in them, even though those specific compounds may have a hard time making it into our cells to protect them,
(and it is Absolutely possible to get too many anti-oxidants, resulting in other problems)
The food that has anti-oxidants in it also seems to have some other amazing qualities, too!
Is There A Way To Get Similar Effects As The Experiment?:
So, can you achieve the same benefits as the study subjects?
The short answer is: It’s Pricey!
One of the only producers I know of making high-flavanol cocoa products is CocoaVia, which I think is owned by Mars.
And honestly, they sound kind-of expensive. So you’d better be pretty-serious to start spending there.
Other ways might include rolling your own super-dark cocoa with as little sugar as you can stand.
Rolling Your Own & Getting The Right Cocoa:
If a 2008 study by Hershey is to be believed, you would need about 15 grams or .2 cups (
2Tbsp) of non-dutched natural cocoa powder to get the same amount of flavonoids from one standard 450mg CocoaVia serving of anything they make.
Another study showed that the process called “Dutching” which makes cocoa taste different, and some say better, results in an average-loss of 60% of all flavonoids in cocoa powder.
This may be the manufacturing process that CocoaVia refers to on their info page that they say makes other sources of cocoa lower in flavanols than theirs.
You might also try the high-content bars from Lindt, which go all the way up to 99%+ cocoa.
Putting Up With High-Content Chocolate & More Food Experiments:
Honestly, for my money, anything above 78% tastes, and very-interestingly also feels like Medicine, rather than eating sweets.
Seriously. You get a very definitive buzz after anything above 80-85%, and it isn’t just emotional that would feel like endorphins.
Why spend money on fancy drugs when you can get a very healthy buzz off some super-dark chocolate?
Who knows, you might also just find a source of capsules of natural cocoa powder and take a handful of them that adds up to .2 cups.
Now, the interesting experiments that could be done in the future would be to test if other foods that also have high flavanol content can also have a similar-effect on brain-function.
-Like a more-formalized results-oriented version of what Dr. Neal Barnard did with his pre-dementia patients.
This might be especially-relevant, because it might be possible to get a less-processed, less-expensive version of a flavonoid brain-booster.
But hey, it’s still Winter. Who doesn’t like a seriously kick-butt cup of hot cocoa anyway?
References & Links:
&bull Source:U. Birmingham
&bull Source Study: Nature/SciRep – Dietary flavanols improve cerebral cortical oxygenation and cognition in healthy adults
&bull More Coverage: CocoaVia
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