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Is Hot Chocolate Good For a Sore Throat?

Ever wondered if that steaming mug of hot chocolate does more than just warm your hands on a chilly day? Research shows 70% of people turn to hot drinks for relief from cold symptoms. But is hot chocolate good for a sore throat?


From its historic origins to its comforting warmth, there’s much to love about this hot drink. But when our throat starts to feel scratchy and sore, is reaching for a cup of hot cocoa a wise choice?

Let’s find out!

As the winter chill sets in, most of us naturally lean towards a hot drink, and for many, hot chocolate is the go-to choice.

But beyond its deliciousness, does it serve any medicinal purpose, especially for a sore throat?

Let’s dive in and take a look.

Understanding Sore Throats

Causes of a sore throat

From viruses to vocal strain, there are numerous causes behind that painful, scratchy sensation.

Knowing the cause is crucial because remedies, like hot chocolate, might vary in their effectiveness depending on the underlying issue.

Symptoms and signs

It isn’t just about pain. Sore throats can also come with coughs, swollen glands, and even difficulty swallowing.

Recognising these can help you choose the best remedy.

Woman with a sore throat | Is hot chocolate good for a sore throat?

The Components of Hot Chocolate

Ingredients commonly found in hot chocolate

Hot chocolate often consists of cocoa, milk or water, and sugar.

While cocoa, especially dark cocoa, contains beneficial compounds, the other components could have pros and cons for sore throats.

Potential health benefits of cocoa

Did you know that cocoa is packed with antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties?

Dive into our detailed guide on the history of hot chocolate to understand more!

Hot Chocolate and Sore Throat: The Pros

Warm liquids and their soothing effect on the throat

When discomfort strikes in the form of a sore throat, the body naturally craves relief.

Warm liquids, whether it’s a steaming cup of tea, a hearty bowl of soup, or a rich mug of hot chocolate, possess a unique therapeutic quality.

The warmth from these liquids helps in expanding the blood vessels in the throat, facilitating increased blood flow.

This not only provides an immediate soothing sensation but also accelerates the healing process by carrying more white blood cells to the affected area.

In addition, the steam from a hot beverage can moisten the throat, easing dryness and irritation.

So, it’s no surprise that many find solace in the embrace of a warm drink during those throat-troubling times.

Cocoa beans

Anti-inflammatory properties of cocoa

Derived from the cacao bean, cocoa isn’t just the cornerstone of many of our favourite treats; it’s a powerhouse of health benefits too.

Central to its curative prowess are its rich flavonoids, a type of polyphenol.

These compounds have been extensively studied for their anti-inflammatory properties.

When consumed, they work actively to reduce inflammation at a cellular level by neutralising harmful free radicals and inhibiting inflammatory cell signals.

This means that a cocoa-rich beverage could offer relief not just by its warmth, but by actively combating the inflammation causing a sore throat.

It’s a delightful blend of pleasure and healing in every sip!

Hot Chocolate and Sore Throat: The Cons

Sugar content and its potential effect on inflammation

In the realm of delightful tastes, sugar undoubtedly reigns supreme for many. Yet, beneath its sweet allure lies a less savoury impact on our health.

Sugar, particularly in excessive amounts, has been linked to promoting inflammation in the body.

When consumed, refined sugars can lead to a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels.

This surge can activate inflammatory processes, causing the release of certain pro-inflammatory messengers called cytokines.

For those with a sore throat, this is particularly pertinent.

While the inflammation from a sore throat might primarily be due to an infection or irritation, adding more fuel to the fire through sugar can aggravate the symptoms.

As such, when opting for a hot chocolate mix, especially during times of illness, it’s wise to consider those with reduced sugar or, better yet, make your own mix where you can control the sweetness without compromising on relief.

White and brown sugar

Possible irritants in commercial hot chocolate mixes

Some store-bought mixes contain additives or preservatives, which might not be the best for an already sensitive throat.

Hot Chocolate and Sore Throat: Pros vs Cons

Let’s summarise those points in a handy table.

Warm liquids can provide temporary relief for sore throats.High sugar content in many mixes can exacerbate inflammation.
Cocoa has anti-inflammatory properties.Some commercial mixes contain potential throat irritants.
The temperature of hot chocolate can soothe the throat.Dairy can thicken mucus, which may not be ideal for sore throats.

Comparison to Other Warm Beverages

Tea as an alternative

For centuries, tea has been hailed not just for its comforting warmth but also for its medicinal properties.

When it comes to sore throats, the subtle yet potent power of certain teas surpasses many other beverages.

Chamomile tea, for instance, is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help soothe a swollen throat while offering relaxation.

Ginger tea, on the other hand, is a fiery champion against inflammation and is widely regarded for its throat-soothing abilities.

Moreover, it can combat nausea and boost immunity.

So, while hot chocolate brings undeniable comfort, turning to teas like chamomile and ginger might be a wiser choice for those looking for relief from that irksome throat itch.

The benefits of honey and lemon water

Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory, and lemon is rich in vitamin C. When combined with warm water, this duo can work wonders.

Creating a Throat-friendly Hot Chocolate

Using dark cocoa

Venturing into the world of chocolate and cocoa, the hue can tell a tale.

The darker the cocoa, the closer it is to its natural, unprocessed state. This deep richness brings with it a number of health benefits.

Dark cocoa is a treasure trove of flavonoids, specifically epicatechins and catechins, which are natural antioxidants.

These antioxidants combat free radicals in the body, supporting overall health.

Moreover, the higher percentage of cocoa in dark variants means they naturally have less room for added sugars, additives, and milk solids commonly found in milk chocolates or lighter cocoa products.

But there’s more than just antioxidants at play.

Dark cocoa is also associated with improved heart health, better cholesterol levels, and even enhanced brain function.

These benefits are derived primarily from the more concentrated presence of cocoa’s natural compounds in darker varieties.

Thus, when crafting a cup of hot cocoa or any chocolate-infused delicacy, reaching for the darker cocoa not only elevates the richness and depth of flavour but also amplifies the health benefits, making it a win-win choice!

Almond milk | Non-dairy alternative

Substitutes for sugar and dairy

Considering alternatives like almond or oat milk can make your hot chocolate both delicious and less likely to thicken mucus.

Check out our guide on non-dairy alternatives for hot chocolate.


While hot chocolate has its merits in soothing a sore throat, especially due to the warmth and cocoa’s properties, it’s essential to consume it wisely.

Limiting sugar and choosing the right kind of milk or milk substitute can make all the difference.

But always remember, if the soreness persists, it’s best to seek medical advice.

Next time you’re sipping on that delightful mug of hot cocoa, remember that you’re not just indulging in a treat, but potentially aiding your body’s healing process.

Hot Chocolate World author
Andrew Lowry

Hi, I’m Andrew and I like hot chocolate. Given the nature of this blog, that’s probably not surprising though.

I don’t drink coffee or tea (except a bit of green tea occasionally) so my hot drink options are limited.

I’m a champion of good-quality hot chocolate and want to see and learn more about it, so join me and let’s learn together.

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