Pregnant women often worry about gaining too much weight when they are expecting, but a new study has shown that eating chocolate could provide essential health benefits. Anyone who has been through pregnancy will have experienced cravings at any time of the day or night – with chocolate being top of many women’s list. Now you no longer need to stress about tucking into your favorite sweet treat, as scientists have found high–flavanol chocolate can boost fetal growth and help the placenta perform more efficiently.
The study conducted by experts at Universite Laval in Quebec City, Canada, also determined the sweet stuff can decrease the risk of pre-eclampsia, a potentially serious condition which can occur in the latter stages of pregnancy.
“This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” explained study co-author Dr Emmanuel Bujold.
Previous studies have produced conflicting findings when it comes to the impact of eating chocolate during pregnancy, so this latest trial focused on the effect of high-flavanol chocolate, such as dark chocolate, which is high in cocoa solids.
For the study, 129 women were chosen, all between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant with one baby. They were given 30 grams of either high-flavanol or low-flavanol chocolate to eat every day for 12 weeks, and their progress was followed until they gave birth. Each participant’s uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index (PI) was measured, which shows blood velocity in placental, fetal and uterine circulations. The PI showed noticeable improvement for both groups.
Gestational hypertension, placenta weight, pre-eclampsia and birth weight was also noted for each woman – and no differences were found between the two groups.