Chocolate & Pregnancy: 11 Reasons Why Craving Chocolate is Good for You and Your Baby

Published by Eric Durtschi, Founder, Crio Bru

Article at a Glance

  • Craving chocolate while pregnant? Great! It has some amazing health benefits for you and your baby.
  • 11 reasons why incorporating more chocolate into the diet of expecting mothers can have amazing benefits.
  • Suggestions on how to get more cacao into your day.

 

Pregnant? Yes, you do NEED that chocolate!

During pregnancy, you may have some strange cravings. The cravings are almost too many and sometimes, too strange to list. However, there is one almost universal craving, chocolate!! Pregnant women from all over the word have been known to do some crazy stuff to get their chocolate fix and after all, you are eating for two! Well, we’re here to tell you that you can now feel justified in sending your partner out at midnight to grab some chocolate if you find yourself without any on hand.
Here are 11 reasons why you incorporating more chocolate into the diet of expecting mothers can have amazing benefits:


1. 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 the 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 (1,2).


2. Regulates Blood Pressure

Theobromine present in cocoa helps in regulating blood pressure in pregnant women by dilating the blood vessels (3)


3. Contains Essential Antioxidants

Theobromine present in cocoa helps in regulating blood pressure in pregnant women by dilating the blood vessels (3)


4. Prevents Heart Disease

The antioxidant property of dark chocolate plays a prominent role in preventing heart disease and, therefore, supports the cardiovascular system (5). The darker and the higher the quality of chocolate, the better it is for the heart.


5. Relieves Stress

Dark chocolate has been 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 (6,7).

6. Give 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 (8,9).

"Mothers who frequently had chocolate in their pregnancy gave higher happiness score to their babies than mothers who did not have chocolate regularly."


7. 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 (10).


8. Good Sources of Iron & Magnesium

About 100g of dark chocolate provides you with 67% of recommended daily intake for iron and 58% for magnesium (11). Iron is essential to maintain the hemoglobin count during pregnancy and magnesium helps to metabolize fatty acids.


9. Decrease Chance of Miscarriage

Although there is nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage, women who eat chocolate daily were found to have 20 percent less chance of suffering a first-trimester miscarriage (12).

10. Better Fetal Development

In the same study, women who consumed chocolate during pregnancy also benefited from better placental and fetal growth and development, so eating chocolate could mean an all-around healthier baby come delivery day (13).
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. 
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.

11. Healthy Weight Gain

Chocolate may just help keep those unnecessary extra pregnancy pounds at bay. Eating dark chocolate can help maintain healthy weight gain and lower cholesterol (14).

Watch Out! Not All Chocolate is Created Equal

Chocolate has been proven to have many health benefits but keep in mind that not all chocolate is created equally. The primary health benefits come from the high level of flavonoids found in the cacao bean so the higher the percentage of cacao, the more flavonoids you will get. Many traditional chocolate products have little cacao and are often so over processed that you get very few, if any, benefits. In fact, it can be detrimental to your health since they are often so loaded with sugar and fat calories. If you want to get the most out of your chocolate, seek out high percentage dark chocolate made from an artisan chocolate maker if possible.
Brewed cacao is another great method source- it offers the amazing flavonoids and healthy stimulant, theobromine, without all the fat and calories.   Crio Bru is one example of brewed cacao that is made from 100% cacao beans and when prepared offers 15 calories per serving, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol and 0 sugar while maintaining most of the flavonoids and theobromine.

How to Get More Chocolate Into Your Day

While everyone likes a nice sugar filled chocolate treat, how do we get more pure dark chocolate into our day?
1.)   Try the Crio Bru brewed cacao craze. It brews like coffee but you get the benefits of cacao.Learn More Here
2.)   Come to the dark side. Whatever your choice in chocolate, try grabbing a chocolate bar that has a higher % of dark chocolate than you currently enjoy. While you may not be ready for 100% dark chocolate, the darker the better.
3.)   Make more recipes that use raw cacao powder. Here are some good ones

References

1.   https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1293098/A-regular-chocolate-treat-halve-womans-risk-giving-birth-prematurely.html
2.   https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306103.php
3.   https://healthfully.com/358464-antioxidants-in-dark-chocolate.html
4.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3878223/
5.   http://www.womenshealth.northwestern.edu/blog/chocolate-may-lower-risk-heart-failure
6.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575938/
7.   https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20091113/dark-chocolate-takes-bite-out-of-stress
8.   https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7641820_Sweet_babies_Chocolate_consumption_during_pregnancy_and_infant_temperament_at_six_months
9.   http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3604275.stm
10.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4065350/
11.   https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2
12.   https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn10717-single-women-may-face-higher-risk-of-miscarriage/#.VNuIfubF884
13.   https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/slideshow/2793/fun-things-to-do-with-your-placenta
14.   https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19946015/chocolate-weight-loss/

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