A healthy body can often increase your chances of getting pregnant and conceiving a baby. And, once you are pregnant, being in good health reduces your chances of many complications and discomforts during pregnancy. Well, chocolate may not necessarily directly help you conceive, but it might be good for your overall health.
A number of research studies on chocolate are showing that moderate consumption of dark chocolate may be associated with several health benefits. These include:
- Decreased risk of heart disease
- Decreased risk of diabetes
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Reduced level of stress hormones
Chocolate may even help to improve vision and increase endurance. You may remember that Attain Fertility specialist Dr. Ku recently wrote a blog about chocolate and stress reduction. Eating small amounts of dark chocolate may reduce stress and help you relax while you work on building your family.
I wanted to know more about the science of these health benefits so I asked Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine nutritionist Tracey Singh, RD, LD, CDE to explain. Here is what she shared:
Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) contains flavanols, which act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants protect our body from everyday pollutants and are found in other foods like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and beans.
Tracey and I came up with some tips to help you get the most benefits of these flavanols found in chocolate:
- As a general rule of thumb, the darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of flavanols. For instance, white chocolate and milk chocolate products are not as high in flavanols as dark chocolate.
- When choosing chocolates, look for dark chocolate products that do not list sugar as the first ingredient.
- Many products containing chocolate are high in fat, sugar, and calories, and often contain caffeine. To prevent weight gain, eat dark chocolate only in limited amounts.
- Moderation is key for good health! Try to buy snack bag sizes of dark chocolate to help with portion control.
- If you eat 200 calories of dark chocolate a day, you’ll need to cut calories someplace else, or take a 45 minute brisk walk to burn those calories.
I am a lover of dark chocolate; my motto is the darker, the better. I try to always have a little bag of Ghirardelli Raspberry Dark Chocolates in my pantry and prefer Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips to semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips for baking. So this is one area of research that I look forward to learning more about. Researchers: keep studying chocolate, I say. I feel so much better about pinching off another piece of that dark chocolate bar.
Tracey Singh, RD, LD, CDE is a nutritionist with special interest in nutrition and fertility. She works at the Atlanta Center for Reproductive Medicine (ACRM). To make an appointment at ACRM, call (404) 585-3641.
Britt Berg is a writer, blogger, and content manager for Attain Fertility. She is also a trained therapist and co-author of Making a Baby, a book about infertility.