Having some serious chocolate cravings? For the pregnant mamas with a sweet tooth, we’ve got good news for you: these decadent treats actually have plenty of amazing benefits for you – and your baby.
#1 A natural mood booster
Who doesn’t love chocolate? If you ever need a reason to reach out for that Cadbury, you’ll be glad to know that indulging in a chocolate bar or two works wonders in improving one’s mood. Chocolate – particularly dark chocolate – contains a variety of compounds known for its mood-lifting properties such as serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that produces feelings of happiness. Talk about an instant serotonin boost!
Besides helping to regulate your mood, this overachiever of a brain chemical is also proven to promote a better sleep cycle and reduce overall stress levels. Don’t just take it from us though; according to a study conducted in Finland, women who consumed chocolate during pregnancy are more likely to have “happier babies”.
#2 Boost antioxidant levels
Dark chocolate is packed with flavonoids, which are naturally occurring compounds that are high in antioxidants. Plus, it boasts some seriously powerful health benefits like improving cardiovascular health, strengthening the immune system and reducing blood pressure. Some research also suggests that consuming flavonoid-rich foods may help to prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other common illnesses.
But as a rule of thumb, always opt for dark chocolate with a cocoa percentage that’s 70% or higher – the darker it is, the more flavonoids it contains and the better it is for you. Besides cocoa, flavonoids can also be found in fruits and vegetables so be sure to eat your greens (and other colours of the rainbow) before indulging in your little snack!
#3 Maintain a healthy weight gain
Coping with weight gain can be a struggle for many expectant mums, but did you know that chocolate can actually help to keep your pregnancy pounds in check? It’s a little-known fact that dark chocolate is great for controlling appetite, and it helps to lower your cholesterol count too. This ensures that your pregnancy weight game plan will be back on track; gaining weight at a steady pace is essential for the growth of your developing baby.
But on top of all the health perks, it’s important to remember that chocolate has a good amount of calories that may otherwise contribute to an unhealthy weight gain. A little chocolate doesn’t hurt during the early stages of pregnancy, but you may want to start cutting back on your chocolate consumption when it comes to the third trimester. After all, chocolate doesn’t exactly provide much nutritional value and your body will need all the energy it can get.
#4 Benefit fetal development
Your bub will thank you for this! In a recent finding, it’s reported that the consumption of chocolate has a significant positive impact on fetal growth and development. Thanks to the flavonoids present in cocoa, it’s said to improve blood flow and placental function in expectant mothers, which makes for a safer pregnancy and an all-around healthier infant.
The same study also shows that regular chocolate intake lowers the incidence of preeclampsia during pregnancy, which is a condition that occurs due to the sudden rise in blood pressure and may lead to complications including preterm birth. In fact, eating chocolate reduces the risk by a whopping 50% – that’s enough of a reason to enjoy your favourite chocolate. Just be sure to do so in moderation!