Is chocolate the new pregnancy health food?


chocolate tabletsChocoholics rejoice!

Good news for your sweet tooth: Chocolate—particularly dark chocolate—can reduce your risk of preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure.

Researchers at Yale University in New Haven, CT, found that pregnant women who ate more than five servings of chocolate weekly were 40 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than women who ate chocolate less than once a week. What’s more, when the researchers tested cord blood, they found that women with the highest levels of theobromine, a byproduct of chocolate consumption, were nearly 70 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia compared to women with the lowest levels.

Although the study didn’t distinguish between types, dark chocolate has higher levels of theobromine, which dilates blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Other components of chocolate that might be behind the decrease in risk are magnesium, which also lowers blood pressure, and flavenoids, which fight heart disease.

“Any of these ingredients could be responsible for lowering the risk for preeclampsia or it could be a combination,” says lead researcher Elizabeth Triche, Ph.D., director of the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric, and Environmental Epidemiology. She suggests consuming 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily. To get your dose, snack on three Hershey’s Extra Dark blocks or Maramor Dark Chocolate Squares, which have added omega-3.

Read more: 5 foods that promise a stronger, healthier heart for baby

—Eleanor Gilman

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