By now, you may be familiar with cocoa’s versatility. Cocoa, which is harvested from the plant of the same name, refers to roasted cacao or cocoa beans that are ground into a powder where most of the fat has been removed.1 Throughout the years, it has become a staple ingredient in sweet treats, and has been featured in beverages like hot cocoa.
While you can buy cocoa powdered drinks from groceries or pre-blended in coffee shops, these do not compare to the satisfaction and flavor that you get when you make hot cocoa from scratch, just like in this creamy keto hot cocoa recipe. Using real ingredients, instead of artificial substances, can help deliver important benefits and warm you up whenever the weather gets too cold.
Delightfully Healthy Keto Hot Cocoa Recipe
Cook time: 3 minutes
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for three minutes.
- Place cocoa mixture in a small saucepan and warm the mixture over low heat. Be sure to whisk often to ensure all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
- If you’d like to, add coconut whipped cream or cacao nibs.
This Keto Hot Cocoa Recipe Is Unlike Any Drink You’ve Tried Before
Cocoa beans and hot cocoa have gone a long way since their supposed origin in Mexico, where Mayans drank a concoction made from ground up cocoa seeds combined with water, cornmeal and chili peppers as early as 500 B.C. The early 1500s and 1700s saw the travel of cocoa beans and chocolate drink-making tools to places like Spain and London.2
Nowadays, hot cocoa is associated with warm fireplaces and cozy sweaters, as this beverage gets very popular during the fall or winter to combat the cold weather. Fortunately, hot cocoa, when done right and made with the correct ingredients, can provide vital health benefits that may improve overall health and well-being. Here are some reasons why this keto hot cocoa is a valuable addition to your arsenal.
What Are Cacao’s Health Benefits?
Organic raw cacao powder comes with various health benefits, which are linked to the naturally occurring compounds found in the cacao bean:
- Epicatechin: This flavonoid is said to provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may assist with shielding nerve cells from possible damage.
- Resveratrol: It’s known as a powerful antioxidant that may fight free radicals in the body and deliver anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties. Resveratrol was also proven to promote neuroprotective effects and has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to moderate inflammation in the central nervous system (CNS). This action is crucial because CNS inflammation may play a major role in the onset of neurodegenerative diseases.
Cacao beans are also home to the following:
- Healthy fats
- Other antioxidants
- Nitrogenous compounds like proteins, methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine
- Minerals like potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc and magnesium
- Valeric acid, which acts as a stress reducer despite the presence of stimulants
Furthermore, several studies have confirmed that cacao may provide benefits to your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, and help combat diabetes and other diseases rooted in inflammation. Other possible benefits of cacao include:
Antithrombotic properties4 that may help improve endothelial function5
Antiobesity effects, mainly due to the polyphenols’ potential ability to suppress fatty acid synthesis, while stimulating cell energy expenditure in the mitochondria6
Improvement of gastrointestinal flora7
Improvement of exercise endurance8
Reduction of stress hormones
Neuroprotective benefits and decreased Alzheimer’s disease risk9
Protection against preeclampsia in pregnant women10
How to Pick High-Quality Cacao
When buying raw cacao, look for a product with higher amounts of cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content. Aim for products with a cacao percentage of 70 percent or higher.
Ultimately, remember that a higher cacao percentage means that the product will be more bitter. The polyphenols are responsible for chocolate’s bitterness, so some manufacturers strip cacao of some polyphenols for a sweeter final product. However, this isn’t ideal, since by removing the polyphenols, the potential health benefits are removed too.
As much as possible, purchase organic raw cacao powder from a trusted health store or reputable website that can offer you the real deal. Once you have your powder, store it in an airtight container in a cool and dark place with temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the time, the original container you bought the powder in may be fine, since it may already have a tight-fitting lid.
Organic cocoa powdered can store well for up to two years if you follow these instructions. Avoid storing cocoa powder in the refrigerator, since the humidity inside may promote spoilage.11
On the other hand, if you want to add raw cacao nibs to use as a topping, you can check out well-respected health stores and websites too. Buy cacao nibs whole and grind them yourself (you can use a coffee grinder) if you want to use these. You can also eat them whole, just like typical chocolate chips. A healthy serving of cacao nibs would probably stand at one-half to 1 ounce per day.
Coconut Milk: A Good Choice for Hot Cocoa
Typical hot cocoa recipes call for some milk to be mixed with the liquid cocoa. Instead of adding conventional milk from cows raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), why not try coconut milk instead? Coconut milk comes from the meat of this health-providing fruit. The flesh is finely grated, boiled in water and strained through a cheesecloth, resulting in a liquid with a thick consistency. Coconut milk with a thinner consistency may also be made by repeatedly straining the remaining coconut meat.12
The fact that this milk is made from coconut meat provides a major advantage, since this is where the fruit’s nutrients are mostly concentrated.13 This type of milk may eventually lead to the following health benefits:
- Acting as a tool that can boost energy and help with weight management: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), a type of healthy fat found in coconut milk, tend to be immediately digested and metabolized in the liver and eventually help deliver an energy boost. Furthermore, MCTs aren’t stored as fats, so they can be a potentially good way to manage weight too.14
- Helping manage cholesterol levels: Regular consumption of coconut milk may deliver a positive impact on cholesterol levels. Researchers from an October 2013 Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism study highlighted that coconut may assist with lowering LDL or bad cholesterol levels in as quickly as two months.15
- Reducing risk for inflammation: Coconuts have been noted for their potential in helping reduce inflammation in the body. An animal study proved that a type of MCT in coconut called lauric acid helped reduce a signaling pathway that prompts inflammation, particularly against the microbe Propionibacterium acnes responsible for acne infection.16
- Helping combat viruses and bacteria: Various research has shown that lauric acid may help prevent maturity of the vesicular stomatitis virus.17 Other studies have also shown that coconut can be effective against Candida yeast and the Staphylococcus bacteria strain.18,19
Just like cocoa, coconut milk is an ingredient that you can use in a variety of drinks and dishes to give them a subtle flavor. Of course, you can also drink it on its own to help refresh your body. If coconut milk isn’t your cup of tea (or milk, rather), a good alternative would be raw, grass fed milk
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