Why Putting Some Cocoa In Your Coffee Can Give It A Healthy Boost

Coffee is revered around the world, but not everyone enjoys it. For some people, it's a matter of preference and they detest the caffeinated drink. On the other hand, there are also droves of people who drink coffee every day and simply cannot get their day going without it.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum of coffee aficionados, it's a fact that coffee has proven health benefits. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee helps you live longer. Two to five cups a day, which is considered a moderate consumption level, has been associated with lower levels of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, as well as Parkinson's disease and depression.

In addition, Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that coffee can aid in lowering blood sugar, and reducing the odds of getting colon cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and stroke.

With so many health perks, you might think it couldn't get any more beneficial, yet adding some cocoa to it can actually enhance its benefits even more.

What cocoa can do to your body

Cocoa originates from the Theobroma cacao tree which grows cocoa beans (via WebMD). Cocoa beans can be used to make chocolate or they can be ground into cocoa powder. The health benefits reaped from this fine powder are many, particularly if the cocoa is 72% pure cocoa or more.

Cocoa powder is rich in polyphenols, a natural antioxidant that boosts brain health and blood flow (via Healthline). In fact, cocoa is one of the foods with the highest amounts of polyphenols.

Cocoa is also rich in flavanols, which are not only strong antioxidants but also anti-inflammatory agents that lower blood pressure and decrease stroke and heart attack risk. Flavanols also help improve symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes and protect against cancer.

In addition, cocoa powder also has plentiful minerals including iron, zinc, and selenium. Besides the numerous physical effects, cocoa can also help mental health.

How cocoa powder boosts mental health

According to a study in the Psychiatric Times, people who consumed dark chocolate within 24 hours reported fewer symptoms of depression. The same study found that almost half of the subjects craved chocolate when stressed or depressed, accounting for the reason why so many of us grab chocolate when having a bad day, PMS, or anxiety.

In addition, while chocolate lessens stress, it is also thought to elevate tranquility and calmness at the same time (via University Health News). To gain the best results, aim to eat chocolate every day. Just 1 to 2 ounces a day of at least 70% cocoa can provide optimal benefits. 

Cooking Light suggests adding 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder directly to your coffee grounds for each pot of coffee. Of course, you can always opt to grab a mocha-flavored coffee from your favorite coffee shop, as long as it contains real cocoa powder and not just a flavored sugary mix.