Eating chocolate during pregnancy boosts fetal growth and development, according to the Universite Laval Quebec City in Canada. Regular consumption of dark chocolate in small amounts from your first trimester could improve placental function. urbabyblog tells you why you should eat chocolate, and how much of it could be safe or unsafe.
Is It Safe To Eat Chocolate During Pregnancy?
It is safe to have chocolate while you are pregnant as several studies vouch for its benefits. But it is important for the expectant mothers to keep their caffeine intake less than 200mg a day.
Chocolate contains caffeine, which can interfere with the functioning of your body during pregnancy. It affects the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers that carry signals) and may also cause gestational diabetes and excess weight gain. Therefore, you should have it in moderation.
Dr. Emmanuel Bujold, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Universite Laval in Quebec City, says: “Our observations suggest that a regular small consumption of dark chocolate — whether or not the level of flavanol is high — from the first trimester of pregnancy, could lead to an improvement of placental function.”
Why You Should Eat Chocolate When You Are Pregnant ?
Experts advise moderate consumption of chocolate. The flavanols found in cocoa, which is a major component of chocolate, is beneficial for pregnant women. The darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it possesses. Here are a few benefits of eating chocolate:
- Dark Chocolate Relieves Pre-eclampsia:
Pre-eclampsia is one of the causes of premature labor and is characterized by high blood pressure and protein levels in your urine during pregnancy. When the blood pressure increases, it leads to convulsions and may also cause blood clotting and liver damage.
According to a study reported in the Annals of Epidemiology, cocoa’s theobromine content helps relieve the condition.
Researchers at Yale University found that chocolate intake lowered the risk of pre-eclampsia by almost 70%. It, therefore, concludes that dark chocolate, about five servings a week, is effective in preventing preeclampsia, especially in the third trimester.
- Regulates Blood Pressure:
Theobromine present in cocoa helps in regulating blood pressure in pregnant women by dilating the blood vessels.
- Contains Essential Antioxidants:
Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are known to be potent antioxidants. This antioxidant property helps pregnant women improve their immunity levels and combat some cancers.
- Prevents Heart Disease:
The antioxidant property of dark chocolate plays a prominent role in preventing heart disease and, therefore, supports the cardiovascular system. The darker and the higher the quality of chocolate, the better it is for the heart.
- Relieves Stress:
The dark chocolate is found to enhance mood by raising endorphin and serotonin levels in the brain. The findings from a research study published in the Proteome Research, say that eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two weeks lowers the levels of cortisol hormone (stress hormone). The flavanol reduces fatigue and reflects on the degree of stress.
- Gives Happier Babies:
Research findings in the New Scientist Magazine state that pregnant women who had more dark chocolate gave birth to happier and livelier babies.
Researchers randomly picked a few mothers who had six-month-old babies and asked them how frequently they had chocolate in their pregnancy. They were told to rate their babies’ happiness.
Mothers who frequently had chocolate in their pregnancy gave higher happiness score to their babies than mothers who did not have chocolate regularly.
However, the exact reason is not known – it may be the chocolate passing through the placenta into the breast milk or mother’s enhanced happiness from chocolate that made the babies happy.
Another interesting finding from the study was that it protected babies from maternal stress. Mothers who never ate chocolate showed high-stress levels during pregnancy and had babies who were fearful. Mothers who ate chocolate showed low-stress levels and had babies who were less fearful.
- Regulates Cholesterol Levels:
Dark chocolate contains low sugars and fats. Also, the flavonoids present in it raise good cholesterol levels, reduce oxidation of bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels. They also improve the blood flow by making the blood vessels elastic.
- Good Sources Of Iron And Magnesium:
About 100g of dark chocolate provides you with 67% of recommended daily intake for iron and 58% for magnesium. Iron is essential to maintain the hemoglobin count during pregnancy and magnesium helps to metabolize fatty acids.
Why Too Much Chocolate Is Not Safe During Pregnancy ?
Bujold adds: “Consumption of chocolate must remain reasonable during pregnancy, and caloric input has to be considered in the equation.”
You should not over-eat chocolate during pregnancy for the following reasons:
It is important for you to keep a check on caffeine intake. See that you do not take more than 200mg a day as it can lead to miscarriage. Chocolate contains caffeine, and when you mix it with tea, coffee or other beverages you will be exceeding the recommended daily amount as 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate contains 31mg of caffeine. The same amount of milk chocolate contains 10mg caffeine.
Caffeine is also known to trigger heartburn. Many women experience heartburn during pregnancy due to physical and hormonal changes. One should avoid or limit the intake of chocolate in this situation to alleviate heartburn.