Antioxidants in cocoa

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 11th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Whether you’re curled up on the couch sipping a mugful as snow drifts past your window, or enjoying the steamy beverage as part of a Valentine’s ode to the sweet stuff, here’s another great reason to enjoy a delicious cup of hot cocoa: According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that compared the antioxidant capacity of tea, red wine and cocoa, researchers found cocoa contains more antioxidants than the other beverages.

Black tea, green tea, red wine and cocoa all contain something called phenolic phytochemicals, which are known to function as preventive agents against damage from cell-damaging free radicals. Previous studies have measured the antioxidants in fruits, vegetables and teas, as well as red wine. This study added hot cocoa to the equation, in the most complete comparison of these drinks to date.

The results suggest that cocoa may provide more antioxidant benefits than tea or wine.

Researchers analyzed the composition of the four beverages on a per-serving basis. They found the antioxidant capacity of cocoa was four to five times stronger than that found in black tea. It was two to three times stronger than green tea, and almost two times stronger than red wine.

While chocolate bars also have strong antioxidant capacity, they contain a large amount of saturated fats. A typical chocolate bar has eight grams of fat per serving compared to a fraction of a gram in a cup of hot cocoa, making cocoa a much healthier choice.

So if you’re health conscious, but looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, the occasional cup of cocoa may do the trick… and benefit your health.