It's no secret that chocolate truffles and chocolate strawberries are some of the most crave-worthy foods of women and men everywhere. Pregnant women in particular are known for their love of the sweet stuff. You probably know by now that dark chocolate has been shown to provide many benefits, and a recent study has proven that it can actually help mothers and babies avoid a potentially fatal condition.
According to Yale News, the study was conducted by a team headed by Elizabeth Triche of the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology. They wanted to determine if dark chocolate, which was previously linked to cardiovascular health, could protect pregnant mothers from preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is one of the most common causes of premature birth, reports The Daily Mail. It is a condition that's characterized by dangerously high blood pressure and levels of protein in the urine. Women who suffer from preeclampsia often experience swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and problems with their vision.
The study asked 2,500 women about their dietary habits during pregnancy. According to The Daily Mail, researchers found that those who ate higher amounts of chocolate were less likely to develop the potentially fatal condition.
Yale News points out that the study also measured levels of theobromine in the cord blood of the study participants. Theobromine is a byproduct of chocolate consumption - it's what makes cocoa taste bitter, according to The Daily Mail. Naturally, dark chocolate has more of it because it's less processed. The chemical is thought to keep blood pressure steady by helping blood vessels to dilate.
The women in the study who had the highest levels of theobromine were 70 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who had smaller levels of the chemical, reports Yale News. The measurements helped to validate the study, as just asking the women about their diets during pregnancy doesn't quite qualify as concrete evidence.
The antioxidants called flavonoids that are in dark chocolate may also contribute cardiovascular benefits. While the study looks promising, Elizabeth Triche and her team are still trying to figure out how much chocolate and what types of chocolate are most beneficial to pregnant mothers and their unborn babies.
While you shouldn't necessarily be stuffing yourself with gourmet chocolate snacks (as it could lead to unwanted weight gain and other health problems), you might want to consider eating some dark chocolate when you're pregnant - after all, it may be good for both you and the baby!