It wouldn’t be the holiday season without hot cocoa, but what few people are unaware of is that not all cocoa is created equal. Sure, we can differentiate between different brands of cocoa based on things like flavor, but some of the most important distinguishing factors between different brands are the things we can’t taste.

 

When selecting your cocoa of choice, something that most people fail to do is to read the ingredient lists. So many of the most popular instant cocoa brands are loaded with ingredients that can wreak serious havoc on your health, and being able to identify those ingredients can be one of your most important health-preserving tools this holiday season.

 

One of the biggest ingredients to avoid is hydrogenated oil, or trans fats. Trans fats are known for raising LDL, or bad cholesterol, within your body. This can take a toll on your cardiovascular health, in many cases leading to cardiovascular disease or stroke.

 

When selecting your cocoa, go for brands that steer clear of artificial ingredients and trans fats, like Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (shop.scharffenberger.com)

When selecting your cocoa, go for brands that steer clear of artificial ingredients and trans fats, like Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (shop.scharffenberger.com)

Another important ingredient to avoid is corn syrup. Because the syrup is made with genetically modified corn, it is far from natural and can cause conditions like diabetes or even cancer.

 

On a similar note, you’ll also want to avoid other artificial flavors and ingredients, such as artificial sugar in the form of sucralose. Sucralose is a kind of artificial sweetener which, while low on calories, can be damaging to your health in that it can lead to weight gain and an increase in appetite. It can also lead to more serious conditions, including neurological conditions.

 

Given the damage that these ingredients can cause, brands that aren’t loaded with artificial ingredients and trans fats can hire a PR company to create PR  campaigns that position them as a healthy alternative to those cocoa brands that do not make health a priority. After all, the holidays are a time when people can get swept up in indulgence and excess, and the chances that they’ll go hunting for the health information of their favorite holiday treats can be unlikely.  However, a good PR campaign can help the public make the right decisions about the best cocoa brands for their health.

 

Make your cocoa indulgence a little smarter and a lot more enjoyable by going for brands that steer clear of these not-so-sweet ingredients. Examples include Viva Labs Organic Cocoa Powder, Scharffen Berger Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, or Essential Living Foods Coco Mojo Energy Elixir — this brand of cocoa gives you a health and energy kick all in one.

 

What are some of your favorite hot cocoa brands that focus on health without sacrificing taste? Share them below or tweet us @tamarahoumi