10 Surprising Health Benefits of Hot Chocolate (Slideshow)

Yes, hot cocoa is delicious, but did you know that it can also be good for you?

Heart Health


Hot chocolate is good for your heart: the milk in hot cocoa can help protect against strokes, according to a UK study, and chocolate is richer in heart-healthy antioxidants than green tea. Together: the perfect concoction.

Brightens Skin


While you may have heard that milk can is bad for your skin, causing pimples (which it can, but only for those with a sensitivity to dairy) you should also be aware that milk is fortified with Vitamin D and that it's packed with Vitamin A, which is great for skin. Chocolate -- another ingredient commonly considered poor for skin care -- actually contains tons of flavonoids, which this 2006 study found to be beneficial for skin in multiple ways. 

Good for Coughs


There's a reason you may crave chocolate when you're sick: theobromine, one component, can actually help quell your coughs. You may have heard that dairy may produce phlegm, which is no good when you're sick, but some studies counter that claim.

Prevent Diabetes


A study performed in Italy has found that chocolate may excite insulin activity, thus reducing the risk of diabetes. In conjunction with this, a study performed in Boston discovered that an increase in calcium intake may, over the course of time, decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. Calcium and chocolate? Sounds like delicious hot chocolate to the rescue!

PMS Relief


It's not as though you've ever exactly needed direction towards a gigantic cup of hot chocolate when you're suffering from PMS, but now you know you're doing it for a good reason: chocolate can aid depression, and milk has been shown to aid in relief as well.  

Improve Your Math Scores


A UK-based study found that a big cup of hot chocolate can help produce better math skills.

Lose Weight


Excess stomach fat can be reduced by dairy, and dark chocolate can slow down the digestive process, creating a feeling of fullness. Together? A cup of hot cocoa can be a fat-busting snack.

Cancer Prevention


Cornell University study discovered that cocoa contains antioxidants that may help protect against cancer. Dairy is a controversial subject when it comes to cancer, but some studies have shown that vitamin D and calcium may prevent against cancer as well. 

Lower Blood Pressure


Dark chocolate can lower high blood pressure, according to a medical study performed in Germany, and milk, full of calcium and Vitamin Dcan reduce blood pressure as well. They can be brilliant combined!

Good for Your Brain


Johns Hopkins University researchers discovered that dark chocolate can protect against damage caused by stroke, and a study performed at the University of Virginia confirmed that milk may help ward off the same.