The study adds to growing evidence of the health benefits of cocoa and points to a tasty alternative in the quest to maintain a diet rich in healthy antioxidants, chemicals that have been shown to fight cancer, heart disease and aging, the researchers say.
Their study, which they say is the most complete comparison to date of the total antioxidant content of these three popular beverages, will appear in the Dec. 3 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
"Although we know that antioxidants are important for good health, nobody knows the exact daily amount required per person," says Chang Yong Lee, Ph.D., head of the study and a professor of food chemistry in Cornell's Department of Food Science and Technology, located in Geneva, N.Y. "Nevertheless, a cup or two of hot cocoa every once in a while can provide a delicious, warm and healthy way to obtain more antioxidants."
Many recent studies have touted the health benefits of red wine and tea, all of which are known to be high in antioxidants. Although researchers have been aware for some time that cocoa is also rich in these compounds, its relative contribution in comparison to other beverages has been unclear, says Lee.
To gain a better understanding of how these beverages compare in terms of antioxidants, the researchers tested them using similar serving sizes and conditions. The beverages tested included a cup of hot water containing two tablespoons of pure cocoa powder, roughly equivalent to the amount of cocoa in a normal-size packet of instant hot chocolate; a cup of water containing a standard size bag of green tea; a cup of black tea
Contact: Michael Bernstein
American Chemical Society