Just when you thought chocolate couldn’t get any better—it’s rich and delicious and has even been found to boost your workout—a study discovered eating this treat while pregnant may aid circulatory health. The study, presented at the meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, assigned 129 women, who were between 11 and 14 weeks pregnant, to one of two groups: one group received 30 grams of high-flavanol chocolate for 12 days; the other group received 30 grams of low-flavanol chocolate for 12 days. Flavanols are naturally occurring antioxidants found in chocolate, and are thought to contribute to a few of chocolate's health benefits. Here’s what the researchers discovered:
Women in both groups experienced a significant improvement in a certain measure of uterine blood flow, which is also correlated with placental and fetal blood circulation.
This indicates that eating chocolate, regardless of its flavanol content, appears to improve circulation; however, it’s possible this may have been due to a placebo-effect, as the study didn’t include a group of women who didn’t consume chocolate. In addition, more research is needed to determine if this improved blood flow translates into any specific health benefits for pregnant women or their children. It’s also important to know that milk-based chocolate, because of the added sugars, could be less likely to have health benefits than chocolate with less sugar, and might also be more likely to have negative health effects. Nevertheless, the study does add to a growing body of evidence on chocolate’s benefits for the circulatory system, and it is likely that some doctors—as well as a number of pregnant women—will be tracking this research closely.
Source: Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine