Nibbling on that chocolate bar may help reduce your risk of developing preeclampsia.
If you've been craving chocolate, you might finally have a good reason to give into temptation. According to researchers from Yale University, expectant moms who regularly snack on chocolate are less likely to develop the pregnancy complication preeclampsia.
In the study, published in the August 2010 issue of the journal Annals of Epidemiology, researchers asked 2,500 mothers to recall their dietary habits during pregnancy. Those who consumed higher rates of chocolate during pregnancy –more than three servings a week of foods including chocolate bars and hot chocolate drinks—had a 50 percent or greater reduced risk of preeclampsia compared to women who ate minimal amounts. Researchers speculate that theobromine, the bitter-tasting chemical in cocoa, keeps blood pressure steady by helping blood vessels to dilate.
Too good to be true? Maybe. Researchers admit that asking women to remember what they had eaten during pregnancy could lead to inaccuracies. And, as the UK newspaper the Daily Mail points out, the study failed to examine if the benefits are confined to dark chocolate. Some research suggests milk or white chocolate does not have the same health benefits, as they are higher in sugar and have a lower content of flavanols, the disease-fighting ingredient in cocoa used to make chocolate.