There’s nothing better than a cup of hot chocolate after a stressful day. And just thinking about the smooth buttery texture of chocolate can make any mouth water.
Ever wonder why?
The reason is that cocoa, the purest chocolate, has a calming or mood-boosting effect. Cocoa also has other health benefits that may help us effectively cope with stress.
Similarly, stress adaptogens like Reishi mushroom and Ashwagandha can increase our body’s resistance to stress. This reduces our risk for stress-related health problems.
The combination of hot chocolate with adaptogens can be good for stress relief. Here’s what you need to know to create this stress-busting recipe.
Health Benefits of Cocoa
Cocoa was first cultivated by the Mayans thousands of years ago. It was considered a valuable currency because cacao was believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Mayans would drink the earliest form of hot chocolate to enhance their power and vigor.
Nowadays, cacao-based products such as chocolate are considered sweet treats. They feel especially rewarding when consumed after a tiring and stressful day.
The Mayans were certainly onto something. Studies show that cacao has health benefits that can boost our mood and overall function.
Cocoa and Stress
Cocoa is a complex food that contains a wide variety of compounds. It is a rich source of flavonoids, which is a specific type of polyphenols. Cocoa also has methylxanthines (theobromine and caffeine) and biogenic amines such as tryptophan and tyramine.
Cocoa’s calming and stress-busting effects are attributed to the synergistic interaction of these compounds. Researchers have proposed a “mood pyramid” to explain these different interactions.
At the base of the pyramid are flavanols. These plant compounds interact with neurotransmitter systems such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. These neurotransmitters play an important role in regulating our mood.
Researchers also believe that flavanols can enhance cerebral blood flow, which can reduce one’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, flavanols also appear to help improve cognitive function and protect the brain from free radical damage.
Next on the pyramid are methylxanthines, specifically theobromine and caffeine. They are known for their psychostimulatory effect on the central nervous system.
Methylxanthines can help enhance mood and increase vigilance. The synergy of theobromine and caffeine also explains why chocolate has a different effect than coffee or tea.
According to studies, methylxanthines also promote neural activity. This can protect against neurodegenerative diseases and age-related cognitive decline.
Biological amines found in cocoa include tyramine, phenylethylamine, and N-acylethanolamines. Compared to flavanols and methylxanthines, these are considered minor components of cocoa. Nonetheless, they are still deemed to confer some health benefits.
Tyramine is a precursor to dopamine, which activates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Phenylethylamine is also essential for mood regulation, while N-acylethanolamines are associated with intensifying our senses and the feeling of euphoria.
This explains why we feel good when drinking hot chocolate. In addition, it can also be why we tend to crave chocolate when we feel stressed.
Orosensory properties make up the most minor component of cacao’s mood pyramid. The taste, smell, and texture of chocolate help put us in a positive psychological state.
Adaptogens and Stress Relief
Adaptogens have been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Like cocoa, adaptogens are natural compounds that have a calming effect and can help us cope with stress.
According to studies, plant-based adaptogens can increase our body’s resistance to stress. This is by improving our physical endurance, normalizing our metabolic functions, strengthening our immune defenses, and protecting us from chronic fatigue.
Some of the best adaptogens for stress and anxiety include Reishi mushroom and Ashwagandha. These adaptogens are also rich in phytochemicals and other complex compounds.
Though researchers have not yet fully understood the exact mechanisms of adaptogens, they are believed to influence how the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) reacts to stress.
Adaptogens are also linked to stress mediators such as nitric oxide, cholesterol, cortisol, hepatic enzymes, and blood glucose levels.
Health benefits associated with Reishi mushroom, Ashwagandha, and other stress adaptogens include:
- Protection Against Fatigue - Chronic stress can lead to the overstimulation of our adrenal glands. This is why stress makes us feel exhausted and fatigued and more prone to stress eat. Adaptogens may regulate the adrenal glands to respond to stress more effectively. It also helps prevent oxidative damage.
- Enhancement of Sleep Quality - Cortisol levels are high when we wake up and tend to go down by nighttime. However, stress disrupts our cortisol circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep. Adaptogens may reduce cortisol levels so that we can have quality sleep.
- Immune System Boost - Stress wreaks havoc on our immune system and increases our risk of chronic diseases and psychological disorders. Adaptogens may help mediate our stress response and reduce free radical damage.
A Hot Chocolate Recipe for Stress Relief
Now that you know all about the health benefits of cocoa and adaptogens, it’s time to learn a simple but delicious hot chocolate recipe for stress relief.
This recipe incorporates Xendurance’s Creamer & Adaptogens – a silky smooth powder packed with stress-busting ingredients.
It has KSM-66 Ashwagandha, which may help reduce stress, anxiety, and stress-related food cravings. You also have Organic Reishi for calming the mind and boosting your resistance to stress. The nutrient-dense formula also contains Coconut Powder and goMCT® Oil for optimizing your overall health.
Here’s our tried-and-tested hot chocolate recipe to relieve your stress.
- Pour 8 ounces of hot or boiling water into your mug.
- Add 2 scoops of Creamer & Adaptogens.
- Put in 1-2 tablespoons of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder. You can add more to taste.
- Stir or use a frother to create a silky, smooth hot chocolate.
Get Much Needed Stress Relief From Chocolate and Adaptogens
We’ve been consuming cocoa-based foods for so long without realizing how beneficial they can be for stress relief. Of course, moderation is always best when it comes to sugary chocolate treats. But who says you can’t enjoy a cup of hot creamy chocolate from time to time? Especially on days when you feel beat down by stress.
Cocoa contains complex compounds such as flavanols that can regulate our mood and enhance our cognitive function, which can become compromised when stressed. Studies also show that cocoa can help reduce our risk of chronic diseases.
Adding adaptogens to the mix gives your body the best chance against stress-related health issues. Adaptogens such as Reishi mushroom and Ashwagandha can protect our body against fatigue, enhance sleep quality, and boost our immunity.
Combining these two, you have an adaptogen hot chocolate recipe that you can use whenever you’re feeling stressed and need a quick pick me up. It’s a treat you’ll surely enjoy!