Study: Pregnant Women Should Eat Dark Chocolate Daily

Pregnant women craving dark chocolate, take note: Eating it daily is actually good for you and your baby.

A recent medical study said that by eating dark regularly during pregnancy, women are 69 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia, a major complication with cardiovascular manifestations.

Preeclampsia can cause swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and vision problems. The condition is also harmful to the unborn child.

The study, which will be published in the May issue of Epidemiology, was led by Elizabeth Triche, the associate director at the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric & Environmental Epidemiology at Yale University.

The study consisted of 1,681 women. In that group, 1,346 women had arterial umbilical cord blood available at delivery time. Of that number, those with higher levels of theobromine (a chemical in chocolate) had a decreased risk of developing preeclampsia, compared to those with lower levels of the chemical.

Theobromine has a positive effect on diuresis — increased production of urine by the kidney —, myocardial stimulation — a stimulation of the biological material transplanted in the heart during a particular phase of a cardiac cycle — and vasodilatation — the relaxing of smooth muscle surrounding blood vessels. Chocolate also has magnesium, which lowers high blood pressure, and flavonoids, which are strong antioxidants, according to the study.

“The darker (the chocolate) is, the better it is,” Triche said. “The more highly processed, the more fat and sweet it is, the less it contains theobromine.”

However, Triche does warn against eating too much chocolate, which can lead to unwanted weight gain and other maladies.

Click here to read the full study (subscription required).