Pregnancy is a very beautiful moment for both parents to be. It is also for the little one to be born. At times pregnant women can easily be carried away with emotions, but it should not hinder them from enjoying the food they crave for.
As a pregnant woman, you might be extra cautious with your food intake to avoid unnecessary weight gain or cause any harm to your child. But that’s not the case. You can still eat the food you crave moderately as long it doesn’t cause any adverse effects.
In this blog post, we will talk about one of the most common cravings among pregnant women, CHOCOLATE!
Rather than focusing on common chocolate, we will specifically focus on dark chocolate.
Some of the cool facts about dark chocolate:
- Highest quality among different chocolate variations: over 70% cocoa
- Different varieties: Sweet, semi-sweet, bitter-sweet, bitter
Do you know why pregnant women crave chocolates?
Although there is some medical study indicates that pregnant women tend to crave chocolates when they have deficiencies in terms of fibers. For example, chocolate contains B vitamins and it’s more likely that pregnant women have deficiencies in that vitamin.
However, another study shows that pregnancy food cravings may be completely psychological.
So, we are unable to completely justify what urges the pregnant woman to crave chocolates.
And the best thing about chocolate is that it offers great benefits for pregnant women.
One of the best health benefits of chocolate is that it helps to regulate the blood flow of both mother and child. But you need to eat in moderation.
And that’s why having dark chocolate is way better compared to milk chocolate as you’ll be getting numerous health benefits.
Here are some of the top benefits of dark chocolates for pregnant women:
Stress is common among adults due to various reasons. But, the stress level of pregnant women can be higher compared to others due to the emotional and physical changes they go through day by day.
When you choose to consume dark chocolate, you can easily enhance your mood by increasing the endorphin and serotonin levels in the brain. 40gm of dark chocolate every day for 1-2 weeks intake can help to reduce the stress hormone and body fatigue.
The baby will be happier
New Scientist Magazine stated that mothers who ate more dark chocolates during pregnancy had babies that were happier and less stressed. Although there aren’t any exact reasons for the changes in babies, it is most likely due to the nutrient flowing from the breast milk to the babies. On the other hand, it may result from the dark chocolate intake of the mothers when they were pregnant. Another study also shows that pregnant ladies who ate dark chocolate tend to be happier and less stressed compared to the ones who didn’t consume it.
Rich in Antioxidant
Bitter alkaloids from cocoa help to regulate blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels in pregnant women. It also prevents reproductive diseases with the increase in antioxidants when the pregnant mother consumes dark chocolate on regular basis.
Prevent Heart Disease
Chocolate contains antioxidant properties that play a big role in preventing heart disease and supporting the cardiovascular system. The darker the chocolate, the higher the quality which lowers the risk of heart diseases.
Preeclampsia is one of the severe complications are characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys among pregnant women.
According to a recent study, cocoa’s theobromine can help to relieve the condition if a pregnant mother consumes dark chocolate 5x a week especially during the 3rd trimester. Researchers also found that dark chocolate can also lower the risk of preeclampsia by almost 70%.
Healthy Weight Gain
Pregnant women are always worried about weight gain which is not easy to prevent. But studies show that consumption of dark chocolate with less dairy and sugar helps to keep unnecessary extra pregnancy pounds at the basic level. It also helps to lower your cholesterol level and maintain a healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Good Fetal Development
You can start eating dark chocolate from the 1st trimester during pregnancy. It can boost fetal growth and development. It also has been suggested that regular consumption of dark chocolate (in small amounts) can lead to improvement of placental function.
Contains Iron and Magnesium
Recommended amount or regular intake of dark chocolate also gives a good amount of iron and magnesium which is important for both mother and child.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Gestational hypertension (GH) Systolic >140mmHg and diastolic >90mmHg. Recent studies indicate that regular intake of dark chocolate has good benefits on cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, insulin resistance, etc. Consuming chocolate that has 50 – 70% cocoa helps to lower blood pressure. A new Harvard study finds that consuming a small square piece of dark chocolate daily can help to reduce blood pressure as well.
Reduce LDL Cholesterol
A recent study shows that cocoa powder can decrease Oxidized LDL(Bad cholesterol). Consuming dark chocolate can decrease the risk and lower the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity. The darker the chocolate, the more flavanols (a type of flavonoid) it contains, which helps in lowering LDL.
Reduces the Risk of Miscarriage
Intake of dark chocolate increases the blood flow to the mother and the fetus which reduces the risk of miscarriage. A pregnant mother who consumes dark chocolate daily was found to have 15% to 20% of less chances to suffer from miscarriage. It can be prevented from the first trimester itself.
Even though we can list hundreds of benefits there is always a BUT where you DO NOT want to overdo it by consuming the food you’re craving in large quantities. There was this statement where different pregnant women have different prognoses. Eating more can help in reducing hunger but it can easily misdirect pregnant women to snack on unhealthy food which can negatively affect both the mother and the child.
Despite the benefits of consuming dark chocolates, you also need to be aware of the disadvantages of consuming them in large quantities to avoid unwanted health issues and complications.
Consume in small quantity
Chocolate as said is good to consume during pregnancy. But avoid having them in large quantities. Not only chocolates but also other food items should be taken in small quantities to keep yourself and your baby healthy.
Reduce food with a high amount of sugar
Some pregnant women are extremely cautious about their diet. They are highly concerned about eating food that is high in sugar. It is important to have good eating habits and discipline because if you choose to eat based on your cravings without considering the nutritional value, there is a high chance of unwanted negative effects. It doesn’t mean you should ignore your cravings. Focus on the nutritional value and take them in small quantities.
For example, instead of milk chocolate, you can choose dark chocolate which is relatively low in sugar and offers great health benefits to both mother and child.
Reduce caffeine intake
Taking food that contains a huge amount of caffeine can increase the risk of miscarriage. According to OBG, pregnant women are only allowed to consume 200mg caffeine or less. Some chocolates are high in caffeine. So, it is important to check the caffeine content in your food intake to make sure you’re not taking them excessively.
For example, if you love to drink coffee, you need to consider reducing the intake of chocolate as both of them are high in caffeine. Make sure to keep your caffeine intake to 200mg or less. Once you practice on the right intake for a few days, it becomes a habit and you could easily balance your caffeine intake.
There is valuable information online regarding cravings among pregnant women. But you should seek advice from the experts as well. Although you know your body better, it is important to consult your obstetrician-gynecologist about your diet plan. Some pregnant women may consume chocolate products and don’t see any changes or negative effects. And it doesn’t work the same for every pregnant woman.
If you’re diagnosed with gestational diabetes or have the risk of controlling blood sugar, then you need to be extra cautious in eating chocolates. Having dark chocolate in small quantities does not cause any negative effects on you and your baby.
Consuming other chocolates can lead to unwanted problems because the percentage of FLAVONOID is lower in other chocolates compared to dark chocolates. This is because the higher the amount of cocoa, the more FLAVONOID the chocolate contains.
Another alternative to dark chocolate is brewed cocoa which contains a large amount of FLAVONOID and works as a health stimulant as it is also high in theobromine.
We understand that as a pregnant woman you will have cravings. However, it is also important to keep yourself and your baby healthy, so that you can have the miracle to see this beautiful world without any unwanted complications during pregnancy and also post-pregnancy.
Do you crave chocolates when you’re pregnant?
Share your experience by commenting below.