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Chocolate: The Super-Food for You and Your Baby

Ladies, we all know that pregnancy is already hard enough, far harder than it should be. You run to the doctors for what feels like a thousand times to take a thousand different tests. There are hands all over you, and not the hands you want; they’re just some weird doctor. And don’t even mention all of the physical ailments; the bloating, the cramps, the nausea and fatigue, the swelling and weight gain, and don’t forget the “I have to pee” every 20 minutes.

Pregnancy comes with the mental stress and worries, Am I going to be a good mom? Am I ready? What do I do if the baby won't stop crying? How will I know what to do? Will I be able to support my child, financially and mentally? All of these things can be very stressful. I don’t mean to scare you though, while there is lots of stress involved in this journey, it is a beautiful journey none the less.

A journey that all women should go on because there is nothing more sacred and miraculous than creating life and then nurturing and caring for it. Never fear though, I have some great news for you. It’s something that can help improve your health, help you maintain weight, will make your child and yourself happier, relieve stress and do so much more. What do I speak of you ask? Chocolate.

Yes, chocolate; Hershey’s, Snickers, Mars, Lindt, Cadbury, Pot of Gold, sticks, balls, bars, or even in ice cream; CHOCOLATE! Read this article and you’re going to find out just why you should start indulging in the white, brown, dark, or milk chocolatey deliciousness. Your friends will be very impressed with the way you look and act, and by how healthy you are. They will be even more impressed and astounded that it was because of Chocolate.

7 Helps Maintain Blood Pressure

One of the chemicals found in chocolate is called theobromine. Theobromine seems to help maintain blood pressure by releasing nitric oxide while reducing some of the enzymes that cause some cardiovascular constriction and actually cause vasodilation. This is especially true for pregnant women.

This means that the dilation of blood vessels which affect blood pressure have less constriction and allow blood to flow more freely. This is good because maintaining good blood pressure will lead to having a healthier baby, as well as a healthier mother.

As we all know, high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Not only that, but high blood pressure can cause birth complications such as premature birth. This can happen when a spike in blood pressure called preeclampsia causes convulsions, blood clotting, and can force the liver to shut down.

This is a condition that is only found in pregnant women, preeclampsia can lead to premature birth, and in worst case scenarios--death of both the mother and the baby.

High blood pressure can also manifest itself in heavy breathing, redness in the face, and sweating more. If you maintain your blood pressure you can alleviate many of these problems. So go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth, boy a box of Smarties and eat some every so often throughout the week to help maintain your blood pressure.

All of your friends will think you look a lot healthier, “She seems less sweaty and out of breath. Good for her!”So when you feel like eating chocolate, don’t feel bad, you’re actually helping to maintain your own health and that of the baby. So buy a Snickers, heck go for a multipack!

On a side note, this will make your friends jealous and impress them at the same time. And even better when you tell your friends that the “secret medicine” you used to stay so healthy was nothing more than a daily dose of great tasting, creamy chocolate. They will be really impressed, but might try to get into your secret stash of chocolate bars.

The best kind of chocolate to eat for this is dark chocolate because it has the highest concentrations of pure cocoa and thus more theobromine. On the opposite end of the spectrum, white chocolate is in fact not at all chocolate but just the fat skimmed off of the top of actual chocolate during the chocolate making process.

So, try to stay away from white chocolate, as delicious as it is, and as disappointing as it is to say, it won’t do anything for you except help pack on the pounds; it’s pure fat. 

6 Prevents Heart Disease: Antioxidants

Closely related to the post above, chocolate is actually shown to help improve your heart health. So, every time you tuck into a tub of chocolate ice cream you’re actually reducing your risk of heart attacks, blood clots and other heart related diseases.

The reason for this is because chocolate is high in anti-oxidants, and anti-oxidants are widely known to help maintain a healthy heart. I'm not saying that if you eat chocolate, that you will never have heart disease, that would be ridiculous, but we can only dream. A Twix a day keeps the doctor away.

And like above, the darker the chocolate is, and the higher the actual cocoa content, the better because it has more of the heart saving goodness. I wonder if the Heart and Stroke Foundation has gotten their hands on this handy little tidbit of information, because feeding people M&M’s is a lot cheaper than paying for the ensuing care and treatment after a heart attack.

Moreover when you’re 95 and haven’t had a single heart malfunction, hopefully all of your friends in the retirement home will be so impressed when they find out it was the chocolate that gave you a healthy heart. And all this time they were eating apples and celery--schmucks.

Other good things that anti-oxidants can do for you are help your immune system and possibly prevent cancers. All of these are very essential to your health and well-being, as well as the baby’s. The anti-oxidants will also be transferred to your growing baby and give the baby the same advantages.

These anti-oxidants--or more precisely, flavonoids--are also found in many fruits and vegetables. However, chocolate seems to have more of flavonoids than most other foods.

Flavonoids actually assist in diabetes prevention as well. It's shown that the increased presence of flavonoids, such as those found in dark chocolate, decrease the human body’s insulin resistance. This means a lower chance of developing diabetes.

This benefits your baby as well, because these flavonoids strengthen your baby just like they strengthen you. All of the other momma’s will be so jealous when all of their kids have the snivels and coughs and your baby is perfectly fine because, what do you know, CHOCOLATE TO THE RESCUE!!

5 Reduces Cholesterol and Manages Your Weight

Next on the list, another great thing that chocolate can do for you is lower your cholesterol. Not even keep it the same, but actually lower your cholesterol. Amazing!

The trick to this is to pick chocolate once again that is darker, or at least only semi-sweet. This is because there are chemicals in chocolate which can help lower your cholesterol, but it can’t have high sugar and fat content or else it will counteract the effects.

High cholesterol is also associated with being overweight or increased weight gain. Therefore maintaining your cholesterol--and even lowering it--will help you maintain your weight. Just think of it, eating a Snickers for snack time can actually help you lose some of that dreadful baby weight.

All of your friends will be in awe at the fact that you can eat the double cheeseburger for lunch and not feel bad about it. When they ask you how you can possibly eat that, with the large serving of fries and onion rings, all you say is, "SNICKERS!"

They might not understand, you can explain if you want to, or you can just quietly laugh on the inside while enjoying that juicy burger, watching the poor gal beside you consume a fat free, gluten free, food-free salad.

Chocolate also has lots of iron and magnesium in it, these both help increase metabolism and especially the metabolism of fatty acids. In other words, there is more than one way that chocolate helps you lose weight!

Here’s another chocolate fact for you, dark chocolate is actually shown to lessen cravings for sweet and salty foods, so you won’t crave as many of those bad foods that go straight to the hips. Geez, this chocolate stuff is amazing, I need to try it sometime!!

Who am I kidding, I’ve gone through the better part of a party size bag of M&M’s just writing this article. Seriously, you try writing about chocolate without craving it!

4 Stress Relief

So far we've learned that chocolate reduces the risk of premature birth, preeclampsia, high cholesterol, it maintains weight and even helps prevent heart disease. It does all of the same things for the baby inside of you. All of the previously mentioned things are great in their own way, but they are also great because they help reduce stress.

These alone are great reasons why chocolate relieves stress, you can be confident that by eating chocolate you are keeping yourself healthy, that’s bund to relieve some stress! Keep in mind that everything should be consumed and taken in moderation, the same is true for chocolate; don’t eat too much, no more than few hundred grams per day at most.

Another reason why chocolate helps relieve stress is because it is simply delicious, there is nothing better than that sweet gooey and creamy goodness in your mouth, it’s heaven. My favorite is Devil’s chocolate ice cream, what’s yours? Also if you’re like me and you love chocolate ice cream, that’s even better because it has calcium, protein, and several vitamins, SCORE!

Chocolate can really help make a woman feel better and put her in a more positive mood. That's because chocolate contains chemicals in it which affect the brain, they're similar to serotonin which stimulate endorphins in your brain. Endorphins are the chemical that relieve stress and create the feeling of pleasure.

NO, not that kind of pleasure, emotional pleasure…happiness. Many women say that a good chocolate is similar if not sometimes better than good sex--uh oh men, watch out, you’ve got competition. The next time you’re stressed out, or your husband’s not around to satisfy your needs, just chomp down on some chocolate, you’ll be feeling better soon.

While all of your friends are grumpy and life is stressing them out, you can sit there calm and content, sucking on a little triangle of chocolate they call Toblerone.

3 Better Skin

Another thing that chocolate can do for you, and not just if you’re pregnant, is give you better looking skin. There is evidence to show that people who ate chocolate on a regular basis experienced far less reddening of the skin, had denser skin, and their skin was less scaly and dry.

So, if you’re wasting tons of money on make-up to cover up those blemishes, then don’t, instead save some money and just spend a few bucks on some chocolate. You would be surprised because it can do wonders!

And no, chocolate is in no way shown to actually cause acne or skin irritation. Although, if you have a peanut allergy you should avoid eating chocolate containing nuts, or any type of chocolate that doesn't specifically say made in a nut free plant, that might not be the number one choice for you.

This information may be even more important for pregnant women, because with all of the hormones, sweatiness, and different foods women can eat during pregnancy, women can experience worsening of the skin.

Yes ladies, I mean blemishes, better known as ACNE. DAH DAH DAH. So, try eating some chocolate to make your skin better if you're experiencing acne woes. You can make it like a game, almost like with actual skin care products; you never know which one will work, and most of them rarely do, but that’s why there’s so much selection.

Therefore, the only plausible option is to go to the nearest 7/11, buy 30 different kinds of chocolate bars, get a weeks’ worth of each of them and get testing!

My bet is that just like with skin care products Just imagine how absolutely infuriated your friends are going to be when you tell them that you managed to achieve your perfect skin--by eating chocolate. Ok, your skin might not be perfect but the chocolate will definitely help.

Everybody loves perfect skin, and everybody is jealous of those few that actually manage to have perfect skin. And hey, they’ll be even more jealous that your baby has such perfect skin too!

2 Chocolate Can Reduce Pain

As we go along this list it starts to sound too good to be true, because the benefits of chocolate that have been mentioned before are contradictory to what we know and understand about chocolate.

Recently scientists have found that next to water, chocolate is the best food to reduce pain, which is ironic, because most of the things that chocolate helps prevent can end up being quite painful. Not only has chocolate been shown to relieve mental stress or pain, but it can give some relief to physical pain as well.

Yet, what is really amazing is that there have been studies that show that eating chocolate can actually relieve pain, real physical pain. No, it’s not a miracle cure for everything though, it’s not like eating a Tylenol and then the pain goes away for 6-8 hours.

There is only a certain amount of physical pain that can be relieved from eating chocolate. The thoughts behind this finding are that because chocolate is so enjoyable to most people, that they simply forget about their pain while they’re chewing on it.

As mentioned before, chocolate releases chemicals in the brain which act as stress reducers and mood lifters, so even if you are experiencing some slight pain, eating chocolate to improve your mood will make the pain less noticeable.

What doctors have discovered is that the part of the brain that control the subconscious responds to the chocolate favorably, meaning that the good feelings the chocolate bring out in your brain override any pain you might be expereincing.

Ladies, this might come in handy, someone should test this theory out at home, maybe eating chocolate could relieve the stress pain of the Tax man or an angry mother in law. You never know, it might work so why not give it a try!

1 Chocolate Makes for Happier Babies

This one is actually more for your baby than it is for you, but currently there's research showing that chocolate actually makes kids happier. No, I don’t mean the fact that kids love shoving tons of the sweet stuff down their gullet. I mean that women who ate a regular amount of chocolate, 4-6 servings per week, were shown to have happier babies in general.

The babies of these chocoholic mothers were not only happier, they also appeared to be far more lively and energetic than others. I hope sugar doesn’t stay in the blood system for too long though, maybe those babies were just going off the walls from the sugar high because mama was nervous before labor so she downed a carton raspberry crème chocolate balls.

What is even more amazing is that the babies who came from chocolate eating mothers responded far better to new and different situations than non chocolate babies. Most of these attributes are thought to be caused by an increase in a chemical which is passed on from mother to child in the womb, phenylethylamine is the name, but that’s not too important--just eat chocolate!!

The last reason why you should eat chocolate is short and sweet--excuse the pun. The reason you should eat some chocolate every now and then is because you like it. You like chocolate, its smell, its taste, its feel, everything.

Now that you've been given 7 good reasons to go out and start eating chocolate what's keeping you from your favorite bar? Don't worry about the weight, just remember it's better to eat dark chocolate in moderation and you will reap all the benefits discussed here, but without the unwanted side effect of weight gain.

Pregnancy is hard and stressful, and every mother--whether expecting or already having had the child--deserves some comfort and love. And sometimes there’s just no better comfort than that huge old brick of chocolate.

Treat yourself, indulge in some chocolate! Go to the candy store and blow some money on your favorite chocolates and have a blast because you deserve it. BON APETITE!

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