Hot Cocoa is Good For Your Brain

Could eating chocolate be beneficial for you? Say no more; right? There have been various studies indicating the benefits of specifically, dark chocolate consumption. Flavanols, which are found in dark chocolate and cocoa, may promote human brain function on a longer-term scale. Flavanols are a form of flavonoids, which are plant-based substances that have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Additionally, cocoa contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which can also improve brain function on a shorter-term scale.

On a more precise note, a 2011 study of adolescents found that two hours after consuming dark chocolate, both memory and reaction time were better than among those consuming white chocolate (with low flavanol content). It appears the most benefits lie within dark chocolate. As for older adults, cocoa may considerably enhance cognitive function, improve verbal fluency, and decrease several risk factors for disease.

Ultimately, in both younger and older individuals, several studies revealed evidence of increased brain blood flow, oxygen levels, and nerve function. These were measured through tests of electrical activity in the brain after the consumption of cocoa drinks. With all this being said, below you will find a recipe for dark chocolate hot cocoa. Now is a great time to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate during the holiday season!


  • ½ c dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ c honey
  • ¼ c water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 pinch cayenne powder (optional)
  • 4 c skim milk (any type of milk is fine)


  • In a medium sauce pot, whisk together cocoa powder, cinnamon, honey, water, vanilla, salt, and cayenne over medium heat until smooth and creamy.
  • Slowly add in milk and whisk continuously until bubbles start to form around the edge. Do not walk away – you want the cocoa to gently simmer, not boil.
  • Serve with whipped cream if you wish.


DellaCroce, L. (2020). Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa. The Lemon Bowl.

Shmerling, R. H., MD. (2017). Your brain on chocolate. Harvard Health.

If you would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern

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