Just in time for our favorite chocolate holiday, a new study says that expectant mothers can help nurture their baby’s growth simply by enjoying a bit of the sweet stuff every day. This news was presented at this year’s annual Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
The study showed that moderate chocolate consumption (about one 30-gram block per day) during pregnancy could lower the risk of preeclampsia, a serious condition in which blood supply to the fetus is reduced due to the mother’s high blood pressure. After evaluating 129 expectant mothers, the researchers found that chocolate significantly improved all measures of uterine, placental and fetal blood flow in the first trimester in all participants, reported study author Emmanuel Bujold, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University Laval in Quebec City, Canada.
Researchers gave half the group low-flavonol chocolate and the other half high-flavonol. Why is this surprising? As most health divas know, cacao, the purest type of chocolate available, contains an abundance of flavonols (40 times more than blueberries)—a type of antioxidant associated with the lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cholesterol and blood pressure. Although more cacao typically means more health benefits, the women in this particular study saw improvement regardless of the amount. This might mean that consumption of chocolate at any level can help both baby and mama.
But until we know for sure, stay on the dark side. The more cacao content in your chocolate, the better. And if you’re in cooking mode this Valentine’s Day, here are some special chocolate desserts you can whip up as well as raw chocolate treats that will love you back. After all, science shows chocolate is medicinal.