This heart-healthy Mexican Hot Chocolate is as nutritious as it is delicious! You certainly don’t have to feel guilty about this special treat! 🙂 Cacao is well known for its cardiac benefits, but this hot chocolate has even more surprising ingredients like turmeric, ginger, & cayenne pepper (just a little bit ‘o spicy!), to give it just the right kick!
Since dealing with pregnancy-induced hypertension and being diagnosed with preeclampsia, I have struggled with keeping my blood pressure regulated. For those of you who struggle with this also, I’m sure you know how frustrating it can be! I have been on a constant hunt for more sustainable and natural ways to keep hypertension in check and reduce my risk of developing cardiovascular disease. As you can imagine… this recipe has been close to my heart (pun intended 😉 ), and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Why is this hot chocolate “Heart Healthy”?
Raw cacao (not to be confused with “cocoa”) has been well studied for its cardiac benefits. Among its numerous other health benefits, consistent consumption of raw cacao powder has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (source) & reduce systemic inflammation (including inflammation causing hypertension).
Scientists know that cocoa contains compounds called flavanols, thought to be responsible for the formation of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide causes blood vessel walls to relax and open wider, thereby reducing blood pressure. (source)
Turmeric has so many wonderful health benefits (learn more here), and is known for its anti-inflammatory & antioxidant properties which are important in the prevention of heart disease. Studies have shown that curcumin (the most active component in turmeric) may prevent heart disease & arrhythmias. (source) Turmeric also acts as a blood thinner, which can reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Ginger supports good circulation, may help to lower cholesterol, and has been shown to help lower high blood pressure and keep the blood flowing to prevent blood clots. (source)
I personally think that cinnamon is one of the most understated spices out there. It has so many varied and valuable benefits, including regulation of blood sugar, anti-clotting factors, antimicrobial properties, brain function improvement, & of course, for our purposes here… is a beneficial source of manganese, fiber, & calcium, potentially resulting in lowered cholesterol levels and prevention of heart disease. (source)
Capsicum (cayenne pepper) can be used to improve poor circulation (including clotting factors) & high cholesterol (source). It’s also been shown to offer relief to patients suffering from angina (chest pain caused by cardiovascular problems). Cayenne has natural vasodilatory (blood vessel dilating) properties that go to the heart of angina issues. (source) Interestingly, people in cultures that consume large quantities of chili peppers show a decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism. (source)
Studies have shown that consuming almonds can significantly reduce coronary heart disease risk factors, probably in part because of the nonfat (protein and fiber) and monounsaturated fatty acid components of the nut. (source) Almond milk is also a good source of potassium and vitamins A, D, & B12, which can aid in reduction of the development of heart disease & arrhythmias.
Heart Healthy Mexican Hot Chocolate
- 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
- 1 (heaping) Tbsp cacao powder (where to get the good stuff)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (where to buy)
- 1/8 tsp ginger (where to buy)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- 1 (tiny) pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 Tbsp collagen hydrolysate (optional for this recipe, but highly recommended for increased creaminess, and it’s added amino acid benefits – where to find!)
- 2 Tbsp raw honey (here’s the one we like when we can’t get it locally)
1. Bring almond milk to a very low simmer on medium heat, then reduce heat slightly.
2. Add in cacao powder & collagen hydrolysate (if using), and stir until well dissolved.
3. Stir in turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, & cayenne pepper (Just a pinch).
4. Allow to cool slightly before adding honey.
5. Sip slowly while taking in the healthy deliciousness!