With Halloween coming soon, your house is likely to be filled with lots of sugary treats, including chocolate. And here’s some good news: A study found that eating chocolate improves placental function and decreases the risk of preeclampsia.
Previous studies showed conflicting results regarding the role of chocolate consumption during pregnancy and the risk of preeclampsia. Now, the new study evaluated the impact of chocolate with high levels of flavanols, aka compounds found in chocolate and other foods that can promote healthy blood flow. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial of 129 pregnant women between 11 and 14 weeks gestation; each was given either high-flavanol or low-flavanol chocolate. A total of 30 grams of chocolate was consumed daily for 12 weeks and women were followed until delivery.
The result was that there was no difference in preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, placental weight or birthweight in the two groups; however, a marker of blood velocity in the uterine, placental and fetal circulations showed improvement in both groups that was much greater than expected in the general population.
“This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” explained Emmanuel Bujold, M.D., one of the researchers on the study, which was presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s annual meeting.