Moms-to-Be: Take Chocolate Benefits With Grain of Salt

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As if we needed more reasons to indulge in chocolate, here's another: Researchers now say the sweet treat is good for moms-to-be and their babies.

The recent study is sure to be good news to expectant mothers, who are already given a long list of foods to avoid during pregnancy. Thankfully, chocolate isn't on it.

The benefits, researchers say, come in the form of flavanols a type of flavonoid, that has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular issues and lower cholesterol. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it contains.

For the study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA researchers enrolled 129 expectant mothers who were between 11 and 14 weeks gestation. The moms-to-be were randomized to consume 30 grams of either low- or high-flavanol chocolate daily for 12 weeks. A uterine artery Doppler measured the uterine, placental and fetal blood flow, and monitored the risk of preeclampsia, hypertension, among other issues.

The results showed a significant improvement in uterine artery Doppler pulsatility (blood flow) among both chocolate groups, and no differences in preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, or placental weight between the two groups.

Though, we should note, the authors said that they "cannot speculate on the overall effect of chocolate on the risk of preeclampsia" because they did not have a control group of women who did not consume chocolate.

Moreover, if you're expecting and excited to indulge in chocolate on a daily basis, consider this: Chocolate can be high in fat, sugar, and caffeine all of which can be unhealthy in both mom and baby in high doses. And though chocolate has been shown not to have detrimental impact on heart disease, preeclampsia and the fetus, the message is not "Eat chocolate daily for a healthy heart and baby," but rather, "It's OK to indulge every once in a while."