Chocolate – the next health food?

Before I begin to comment on this article I must confess my bias – I love chocolate.  Therefore, I am especially fond of any research that supports chocolate’s health benefits.  So what can we apply from the recent Yale University study at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_63922.html) which indicates that pregnant women who consume more chocolate have healthier pregnancies?  

For starters, let’s look at the data:  researchers looked at 2,291 women who delivered a single baby, and asked them how much chocolate they ate in their first and third trimesters.  They also tested the cord blood for theobromine, a compound in dark chocolate that can help alleviate some cardiovascular problems by relaxing the arteries and stimulating the heart.  Apparently, the women women who reported eating the most chocolate and whose infants’ cord blood showed higher theobromine levels were actually 69% less likely to have preeclampsia than the women who ate the least chocolate! 

So should your OB prescribe a chocolate bar with prenatal vitamins yet?  While this study looks promising, we still don’t know which is the cause and which is the effect: whether the chocolate is the predictor, or whether healthy women with fewer preeclampsia risk factors are just more likely to indulge in lots of dark chocolate!  That said, it looks promising that small servings of dark chocolate, which is richer in these healthful compounds, fits into the healthy pregnancy diet.  As for me, I’ll keep enjoying my daily chocolate and keep looking for more studies to support the habit.

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