By Sarah Vander Schaaff
It’s cold out. And all of us who are not posting photos of a late February escape to the some warm environs, and Mars is looking pretty good right now, will agree.
That’s why today we’re going to talk about the benefits of a nice warm mug of hot chocolate.
I’m not throwing in the towel on education and science. No, in fact, I’m embracing it and adding a dash of whipped cream on top.
Chocolate, as a 2004 Finnish study suggested, has benefits that start even before your children are old enough to beg for a box of Swiss Miss Marshmallow Madness. It starts in the womb.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki asked pregnant women to rate their stress levels and consumption of chocolate.
They followed up six months later after the babies were born:
“The babies born to women who had been eating chocolate daily during pregnancy were more active and “positively reactive” – a measure that encompasses traits such as smiling and laughter,” according to a summary of the study in New Scientist. The article adds:
“And the babies of stressed women who had regularly consumed chocolate showed less fear of new situations than babies of stressed women who abstained.”
The speculation is that the mood boosting chemicals from the chocolate were passed to the babies in the womb.
As a mother who read about this study when it came out, and who was pregnant at the time and drank my share of hot cacao all in the name of science, I can attest to one other consequence: my six year old loves chocolate. I mean she would eat it morning, noon, and night with no negative consequence except to her teeth.
Now, if you’re not pregnant, but say, thinking about your heart, you probably already know about the antioxidant effects of dark chocolate. According to the Mayo Clinic these, “help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.”
But, back to education. It is important to know how to make a good cup of hot chocolate so I turned one authority, Fred Thompson. Not the Senator and actor, but the author of the aptly titled book, “Hot Chocolate, 50 Heavenly Cups of Comfort.”
It may come as no surprise that he shaves blocks of chocolate and melts it in a double boiler, but extra points if you know which kind of liquid gives you the most intense chocolate flavor.
No. It’s not milk.
Still, his recipe for American Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Whipped Cream, appeals to our creamy tastes. It’s got heavy cream, Scharffen Berger cocoa power, sugar, chopped chocolate, kosher salt and whole milk.
Yes, the fat and sugar may overpower those flavonoids, but it’s highly probable this recipe will do something else: distract you from looking at the temperature outside.
While you’re sipping that hot chocolate, here’s a home movie that features some children who recently took the Mindprint Assessment. See what they say about it: