For the Maya it was chacauhaa, the drink made with cocoa and heated water. In Maya language, haa means water and chacau hot. We are talking about the first hot chocolate, the food of the gods, which, according to the Spanish leader Hernan Cortes, was able to support a man on the march for a whole day. Delicious, with a fascinating and enveloping aroma, the fame of chocolate has grown over the centuries up to the present day. Now, it is also science that is interested in this exquisite drink, demonstrating its incredible properties, as emerges from two very recent studies, a review that appeared in the Foods magazine thanks to the work of a Mexican team (Faccinetto Beltran et al, Foods, 2021) and an article published in the Nutrients journal by an English team (Baynham et al, Nutrients, 2021). This is also our Christmas present for you, a cup of happiness and health! But let's understand better.
Hot chocolate improves mood, protects heart and brain
As can be seen from the review, it was observed that drinking half a liter of a cocoa-based drink every day allowed to guarantee a constant supply of flavonoids, especially procyanidins, epicatechins and catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. The antioxidant action of chocolate allowed those who consumed this drink to keep blood pressure and blood sugar under control and to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. And that's not all, in fact, as the review reports, other studies have made it possible to demonstrate the antidepressant properties of cocoa, which led to an improvement in mood, a greater feeling of calm and a reduction in the perception of anxiety and stress. Not only that, cocoa protects the brain in various ways, proving useful in supporting cognitive function, by improving memory and learning, and supporting the nervous system.
Hot chocolate against stress
Cocoa also protects against the damage of stress. In fact, as emerges from the article published in the journal Nutrients, a cocoa-based drink, rich in flavonoids, has been able to improve the functionality of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels, and the peripheral blood flow, which tends to decrease during stress.
A delicious hot chocolate, as the Mayans tasted it
Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add a tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa, stir. Leave to infuse for ten minutes then drink. If it's bitter to you, you can sweeten the drink with a little honey. You can also spice up hot chocolate by adding delicious and healthy ingredients. For example, you can add, together with cocoa, a dry and broken chilli pepper, with a fat-burning and cholesterol-lowering action, taking care to remove it after ten minutes of infusion. Alternatively, you can also add the peel of an orange, with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action, or a cinnamon stick, which is a valuable ally to keep blood sugar and the action of free radicals under control. Always leave to infuse for ten minutes, then filter and enjoy.