Most pregnant women are told to watch how much sugar they eat. But a new study says that increasing one’s chocolate intake may actually be good for expectant moms.
The new study was presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine. It found that eating chocolate everyday can be beneficial for fetal development. This is because chocolate contains something called flavonoids, a naturally occurring compound filled with antioxidants. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the richer in flavonoids it is.
Flavonoids have been proven to lower the risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Other foods that contain this compound include assorted vegetables, berries, and even red wine.
In the study, they specifically linked the flavonoids in chocolate to improving blood flow in the pregnant mother’s body. This, in turn, benefits the development of the placenta, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
However, this doesn’t mean pregnant moms should begin throwing back chocolate bars like they’re vegetables immediately. One point of concern the study raised in its conclusion is that it’s still unclear when pregnant women should be consuming chocolate during their pregnancy, such as in which trimester.
In fact, the researchers suspected there may be negative drawbacks of consuming large amounts of chocolate in the third semester. This is because chocolate contains polyphenols, which have been linked to conditions like pulmonary hypertension in pregnant women.
"In this study, pregnant women were eating chocolate during the first trimester and second trimester,” Dr Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, a researcher from UT Southwestern, said of the findings. “This study did not require the women to eat chocolate in the third trimester."
Dr. Horsager-Boehrer went on to say that it appears beneficial for expecting women to increase their chocolate intake in the first two semesters, but after that, they should be consuming it in moderation. “When you get to your third trimester, talk to your doctor about whether you should scale back on your chocolate consumption," she emphasized.
This is not the first study to find a positive correlation between chocolate and pregnancy. A study conducted last year by the Universite Laval in Quebec City also found evidence to suggest that eating 30g of chocolate per day is beneficial for fetal development. It can help reduce stress as well as lower the risk of developing conditions like pre-eclampsia.
If moms do want to increase their chocolate intake during pregnancy (who wouldn’t?), experts recommending sticking to dark chocolate and consuming it in moderation. Always talk to your health practitioner if you have any questions or concerns.