“By now, it’s common knowledge that dark chocolate can be both a dessert and a dietary supplement, with antioxidants that can help stave off heart disease. And according to a recent Harvard study, we can now add its richer, creamier cousin — hot cocoa — to the list of sweet treats with surprising health benefits.
Flavanols, like the kind that can be found lurking in a frothy mug of chocolate, provide a natural boost to blood flow, which in turn plays a role in healthy cognitive functioning. Elderly study participants were asked to indulge in two cups of cocoa a day for a month to test whether flavanol intake influences risk for dementia. Though none of the subjects had any cognitive impairment, those who had impaired blood flow at the start of the study did experience increased blood flow and better memory after their prescribed choco-diet.
Although the cocoa didn’t do much for people whose brains were already in fighting shape, it’s hard to tell who could use the blood flow boost without waiting for the symptoms to appear. Just to be on the safe side, warm up some milk anyway — two hot chocolates a day might keep the doctor away.”