10 Surprising Reasons Hot Chocolate Is Good For Your Health

Just as the sound of an ice cream truck in summer can still cause you to experience the exact same sense of uninhibited glee it produced in you when you were seven, drinking a mug of hot cocoa after a day spent in the unbearable winter cold can be as comforting and delicious as it was when you were a kid.

10 Surprising Reasons Hot Chocolate is Good For Your Health (Slideshow)

While winter might feel as though it is dragging interminably on and on, hot chocolate — a treat that really loses its appeal in the heat of summer — is the best aspect of the snowy, slushy, frostbitten, pretty unpleasant part of the year.

Historically, chocolate was originally sipped, not nibbled. Initially developed by the Mayans nearly 2,000 years ago, a spiced drinking chocolate later became popular with the Aztecs. Today, it is popular around the world. In Spain, hot chocolate is pudding-thick and served with churros as a morning treat. In Peru, it is a traditional part of Christmas breakfast.

But did you know that hot chocolate can also be good for you health? It used to be thought that the drink could heal stomach ailments, and while that might not be quite accurate, this rich and delicious beverage is; in fact, packed with flavonoids, antioxidants, and calcium.

The most healthful versions of hot chocolate uses 2 percent or whole milk and a mix of real dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and as low dose a level of sugar as you can stand (consider swapping out agave in place of cane sugar). Most powdered hot chocolate mixes you get pre-made will not have the same kind of health benefits.