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Yes, there is such a thing as healthy hot chocolate that tastes good!


Sales of convenience drinks like hot chocolate are up 15 percent from last year’s close, but market analysts say consumers are now looking for healthier versions.

Mandy Frances asked Ruth Kander, a registered dietitian at the Fleet Street Clinic in London, to rate some of the healthiest hot chocolates out there. Then we evaluated them.

It should help you sleep

Sleep Well Milk Chocolate Drink

3 x 200ml cartons, £4.95, sleepwellmilk.com

Per 200ml ready-to-mix cartons: 166; saturated fat, 5.4 g; sugar, 12.8 g; protein, 6.6 g; Salt, 0.28 g

Claims: Made with whole jersey milk, honey, cocoa powder, and valerian [a traditional herbal remedy]. Valerian will help you relax and contribute to better sleep.

Expert verdict: Drinking a milky drink at bedtime appears to help some people sleep. This is thought to be due to the high levels of the amino acid tryptophan in whole milk, which plays a role in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

Valerian root has been used as a traditional sleep remedy for thousands of years — and small studies suggest that it may help some people fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality.

There is no standard dose but 300-600 mg is considered effective – you’ll get about 400 mg in one carton here. But you’ll also get just over half a teaspoon of added sugar per serving.

(Note: Valerian is not suitable if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.) 7/10

Taste: A little on the bland side, with strong honey notes. 5/10

Sleep Well Milk Chocolate Drink

Nourishes the skin

Cocoa & Collagen Vintage + Brave

250g, £22 ocado.com

Cocoa & Collagen Vintage + Brave

Cocoa & Collagen Vintage + Brave

Per 200ml serving (made with semi-skimmed milk): 132.8 calories; saturated fat 2.61 g; sugar, 10 g; fiber, 2.98 g; protein, 10.94 g; Salt, 0.33 g

Claims: Blend of Raw Cacao, Bovine Collagen Peptides [a form of collagen, from cows] and plant extracts including beetroot, carob and ashwagandha [Indian ginseng]; And the baobab [from the African tree] To nourish the skin from within. Rich source of fibre. . . And an excellent source of protein.

Expert verdict: Collagen is a natural protein that keeps skin firm, elastic, and bone strong. There is some evidence that the supplement can heal tendon and ligament damage, but more research is needed on whether it improves skin condition.

But collagen definitely provides muscle-building protein – this drink offers the highest content of all here. Cocoa and other vegetable ingredients give you just under a tenth of your daily fiber in a serving. Raw cocoa also contains higher levels of flavonoids (antioxidant plant compounds) than regular cocoa. However, it is not cheap.

8/10

Taste: You may want to add sugar to balance out the bitter taste. 5/10

Low calorie treat

Cadbury introduces bags of instant hot chocolate

Cadbury introduces bags of instant hot chocolate

Cadbury introduces bags of instant hot chocolate

11 g, 28 pixels, asda.com

Per 200ml serving (with hot water): 38 calories; saturated fat, 0.7 g; sugar, 2.7 g; fiber, 3.2 g; protein, 1.8 g; Salt, 0.24 g

Claims: ‘A light way to enjoy hot chocolate. Only 38 calories per cup.

Expert verdict: With its long list of additives (including one sweetener) and processed ingredients, this is a highly processed food.

Diets containing a lot of ultra-processed foods have been linked to obesity. Some of the sweetness will come from dairy ingredients but there’s also glucose and sugar syrups, which are added sugars – this bag contains half a teaspoon of sugar from powdered milk, chocolate, and added sugar.

1/10

Taste: Watery and sweet too. 3/10

full of nutrients

Earth superfoods activate hot chocolate with chili

Earth superfoods activate hot chocolate with chili

Earth superfoods activate hot chocolate with chili

180g, £5.99, blossomandroot.co.uk

Per 200ml (made with semi-skimmed milk): calories, 165; saturated fat 2.77 g; sugar, 12.6 g, fiber, 3.4 g, protein, 9.3 g; Salt, 0.23 g

Claims: Organic cocoa powder mixed with banana chips, lucuma and cayenne pepper. “A nutrient-dense superfood. Full of flavonoids and the essential minerals potassium and zinc. No sugar added.”

Expert verdict: Cocoa will provide heart-healthy antioxidant flavonoids. Cocoa is also a good source of zinc, which is necessary for a strong immune system.

Cocoa, banana chips, and Lucuma provide potassium, a mineral important for stabilizing blood pressure, and contain 12 percent of your daily fiber (in a tablespoon).

Although there is only 1 percent of cayenne pepper in this, it is best to avoid spicy foods at bedtime, as they may cause indigestion in some. No added sugar, which is a good thing.

7/10

Taste: Adult spicy chocolate flavour. 7/10

to increase energy

No guilt bake cocoa plus

220g, £9.99 yumbles.com

No guilt bake cocoa plus

No guilt bake cocoa plus

Per 200 ml (with semi-skimmed milk): 135 kcal; saturated fat, 2.47 g; sugar, 9.6 g; fiber, 2 g; protein, 8 g; salt 0 g

Claims: To help you “power through your day”. Formulated for people on a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet. Includes a “Batch” of MCT . Hot Chocolate Mix [medium chain triglyceride] Oil powder. Does not contain added sugar.

Expert verdict: MCTs are usually extracted from coconut oil and digested more quickly than other fats, to provide an instant source of energy – so it would be more beneficial to drink this in the morning than at bedtime.

There are only a few ingredients, which is a good thing. But it does contain erythritol, a zero-calorie sweetener that can cause digestive issues

Taste: Smooth – like everyday hot chocolate. 9/10

Helps heart health

Collect Super Cocoa

100gm, £5.99 aduna.com

Collect Super Cocoa

Collect Super Cocoa

Per 200ml serving (with semi-skimmed milk): 160 calories; saturated fat, 3.2 g; sugar, 9.6 g; fiber, 7 g; Protein, 11.2 g, salt, 0.22 g

Claims: Made with high-flavanol cocoa beans and nothing else, this one contains “twice the flavanols of regular cocoa powder.” The manufacturer says that a daily dose of 200 mg of flavanols (four teaspoons of this) has been shown to help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow. Also “Rich in Protein and Source of Magnesium”.

Expert Verdict: Flavanols are powerful plant compounds with protective antioxidants and anti-inflammatories – Several studies show that foods rich in flavanols like cocoa can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A daily dose of 200 mg of cocoa flavanols (also found in tea, red wine, apples, and peanuts) is considered optimal. You’ll also get nearly 23 percent of your daily fiber in one cup, and 11.2 grams of protein. Sugar is not added.

8/10

Taste: You may want to add sugar to balance out the slightly bitter taste. 6/10

Real Superfoods Coco Dream

Real Superfoods Coco Dream

stress reliever

Real Superfoods Coco Dream

180 grams, £25 rhealsuperfoods.com

Per 200ml (made with unsweetened almond milk): calories, 52, saturated fat, 1.07g; sugar, 0.7 g; fibres, 0.96; protein, 1.59 g; Salt, 0.28 g

Claims: Made with raw cacao, coconut sugar, reishi mushrooms, and ashwagandha root [Indian ginseng] And cinnamon, this has an “adaptogenic” substance. [stress-busting] Properties to support sleep and manage stress.

Expert verdict: Reishi mushroom has long been a staple of traditional oriental medicine, as it is used to boost immunity. Some studies suggest that reishi may help improve the activity of white blood cells, an essential part of the immune system — but more research is needed.

Ashwangandha root is a traditional medicine believed to help the body manage stress – but then again, there’s not enough evidence.

This is sweetened with coconut sugar but you’ll get less than five teaspoons per serving.

6/10

Taste: Very bitter, with strong cinnamon notes. 5/10

relieves fatigue

Hot chocolate from my beauty vitamins

12 g, 49p myvitamins.com.

Hot chocolate from my beauty vitamins

Hot chocolate from my beauty vitamins

Per 150ml serving (made with hot water): 36 calories; saturated fat, 0.3 g; sugar, 1.4 g; fibres, N.A.; protein, 3.4 g; salt 0 g

Claims: This powder with skimmed milk powder claims to “support your beauty routine.” Includes biotin [vitamin B7]Vitamin B6 to “reduce feelings of fatigue”, and Collagen and Vitamin C to “support collagen formation”. “High in protein – a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.”

Expert verdict: You’ll get 50 percent of your recommended daily intake from a wide variety of B vitamins, plus 15 percent of your recommended vitamin C in a bag of this. These vitamins are important for healthy skin, hair, nails, and energy levels.

The sweetness comes from dairy ingredients and added artificial sweeteners. A generous 1,000 mg of collagen provides 3.4 grams of muscle-building protein per serving – the equivalent of half an egg.

On the downside, there are a lot of manufactured ingredients.

3/10

Taste: Sweet, with an exotic powdery flavour. 1/10



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