Benefits of Eating Chocolates During Pregnancy
Chocolate whose scientific name is ‘Theobroma cacao’ is aptly named the food of the Gods. We love gorging on chocolate whenever the moment arises. Who can ever say no to this delicious, yummy, mouth watering treat? When you’re pregnant, you are worried about your diet and your health. You soon set to find out what’s good for you and your baby.
A study based on ‘High-flavanol chocolate to improve placental function and to decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia: a double-blind randomized clinical trial’ was presented at the Society for Maternal – Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Atlanta.
The researchers conducted a single-center randomized controlled trial of 129 women with a singleton pregnancy between 11 and 14 weeks gestation who had double-notching on the uterine artery, Doppler. The pregnant women selected were randomized to either high-flavanol or low-flavanol chocolate. A total of 30 grams of chocolate was consumed daily for 12 weeks and women were followed until delivery. Uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index was at baseline and 12 weeks after randomization. Pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, placenta weight, and birth weight were also evaluated.
The result showed no difference in pre-eclampsia, gestational hypertension, placental weight or birth weight in the two groups; however, the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index i.e., the blood flow helps the placenta develop and function normally, which leads to good pregnancy outcomes, in both groups showed marked improvement that was much greater than expected in general population.
Lets us look at the possible benefits of dark chocolate early in pregnancy.
1. It has Flavonoids
Chocolate contains flavonoids, a naturally occurring compound, which is rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. Other foods which contain flavonoids include berries, citrus fruits, vegetables, red wine, and green tea. Research suggests flavonoids may lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure
Dark Chocolate contains theobromine which helps to relax your muscles and dilate blood vessels and hence lower blood pressure. This helps in regulating blood pressure in pregnant women.
3. Manages Cholesterol Levels
By containing low sugar and fats, the dark chocolate helps in managing cholesterol levels in the body and regulate blood sugar levels. Some studies have suggested that chocolate can also prevent memory decline.
4. A Stress Buster
Eating chocolate helps in relieving stress which is a welcomed move anytime. Chocolate is a comfort food to many and is helpful aid during stressful moments during pregnancy.
5. Rich in Trace Minerals
Dark chocolate is packed with minerals such as potassium, zinc and selenium. These minerals help in proper functioning of the body.
6. Contains Iron and Magnesium
About 100g of dark chocolate provides you with 67% of recommended daily intake for iron and 58% for magnesium. Magnesium aids in metabolism of fatty acids and iron helps in maintaining haemoglobin count which is greatly beneficial to pregnant women.
7. A Hearty Affair
Dark chocolate supports the cardiac system and promotes better condition of the heart. The darker the chocolate is, the better it is.
8. A Mood Elevator
It helps in producing serotonin, which is an antidepressant. It can uplift your mood when you’re feeling down. Endorphin that is released in the body can enhance your mood. Researchers also suggest that eating chocolate can also help in delivering livelier and happier babies.
It’s also important to note that the women in the above mentioned study were eating this chocolate during the late first trimester to the end of the second trimester. The study did not require the women to eat chocolate in the third trimester.
Remember that 30 grams is enough to give you a chocolate fix and not something a lot to gorge on. It is wise to make dark chocolate an occasional treat and a not big part of your regular diet. Moderation is key; a thumb rule you should keep in mind with many things.