Who doesn’t love chocolate? And when you’re pregnant, well, it’s a must.
Smooth, creamy, slightly bitter, perfectly sweet… and super beneficial to baby?!?
Yes. Read on, mama. 🙂
Chocolate during pregnancy has health benefits
It’s true. Chocolate contains important nutrients that may make chocolate an important part of a healthy diet! Chocolate contains:
Antioxidants– They help eliminate free radicals in your body. If this review is correct, and preeclampsia is partly due to oxidative stress, then getting enough antioxidants may be an important part of prenatal care.
Magnesium– Many people are deficient in magnesium and often a chocolate craving is a sign that you’re dealing with magnesium deficiency. Eating chocolate can help replenish magnesium as can leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and a good supplement may be necessary. Magnesium is especially important in pregnancy because magnesium deficiency has been connected to preeclampsia. Some moms also find boosting their magnesium stores before pregnancy (or during) may be a good morning sickness remedy.
Resveratrol– May protect brain and nervous systems and prolong life.
Chocolate also has anti-inflammatory properties which can reduce the risk of stroke!
Endorphins- Anyone can attest to the way chocolate makes us feel. It contains phenethylamine, which triggers the release of endorphins, mimicking the way we feel when we’re in love, so it makes sense that many pregnant mamas reach for chocolate at the end of a long day.
But did you know eating chocolate during pregnancy could benefit baby too?
In a Swedish study, researchers asked moms how frequently they ate chocolate during pregnancy, and, when their babies were 6 months old, asked them to rate their babies’ happiness. The results showed a significant difference between the scores that mom’s gave of their children. Mom’s who regularly ate chocolate during pregnancy gave higher happiness scores to their 6 months old than mamas who didn’t eat chocolate regularly.
Of course we don’t know why exactly the chocolate babies appeared to be happier than the non-chocolate babies. It could be that the chocolate itself is making the babies happier by crossing the placenta or into the breast milk. It could be that mom’s increased happiness, from the chocolate, makes baby happier. Or maybe women who eat chocolate every day are simply more happy themselves and thus see the baby as happier.
What’s really interesting about this study is that chocolate during pregnancy seemed to protect baby from maternal prenatal stress.
The study also took into account the moms stress levels during pregnancy and their babies’ fearfulness. Moms who never or seldom ate chocolate during pregnancy and had high levels of stress during pregnancy reported having babies who were more fearful. Likewise moms who seldom or never ate chocolate during pregnancy who had lower levels of stress reported babies who were less fearful.
However, babies of moms who ate chocolate daily had no significant increase in fearfulness regardless of maternal prenatal stress.
So, in other words, EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE, well, at least the kind made with real ingredients, because it may just help protect baby from the affects of stress in utero and may even make her happier overall!
What if I have gestational diabetes?
Pure chocolate is actually very low in carbohydrates and mostly fat but also very bitter. We sweetened it to make it taste good! But, did you know they now make low-carb chocolate for those who are watching their blood sugar levels? I like this brand as they have TONS of different flavors and all are sweetened with very low-carb options. You can still enjoy the benefits of chocolate, including awesome antioxidants and endorphins, without spiking your blood sugar. Of course, check with your healthcare provider if this chocolate works within your gestational diabetes plan.
Healthy and ethical chocolate
There has been some concern lately about lead and cadmium levels in some brands of chocolate. A consumer advocacy group As You Sow did independent testing on a number of popular brands and found levels to be higher than the safe threshold set by California (though the levels were still within the FDA’s limits). Since we know that there is no safe level of lead for children, it makes sense to stay away from heavy metals as much as possible while pregnant.
On the other hand, many of the brands that tested ok for lead and cadmium were milk chocolate which has less cocoa in it. That means that simply eating less dark chocolate would have the same effect. Almost all of the brands that tested ok for lead and cadmium were conventional chocolate which we wouldn’t recommend eating either. So what’s a mama to do? As with all dietary choices, be selective and keep it within moderation.
Green and Black’s Organic Chocolate
Dagoba Chocolate Drops
Equal Exchange Chocolate Dark Chocolate
Organic Dark Chocolate Almonds
Equal Exchange Chocolates Hot Cocoa
Recipes for getting your daily chocolate fix
Try one of these delicious and healthy chocolate recipes!
Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Chocolate Chia Pudding
How about you?
Did you eat chocolate during pregnancy? Do you think it made your baby happier?