Major Finding: About 30 g of dark chocolate per day during pregnancy was associated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels that were lower by 8.32 mm Hg and 3.76 mm Hg, respectively, than those of women in a control group.
Data Source: Longitudinal study in 80 women.
Disclosures: None was reported.
CHICAGO — A daily dosage of 30 g of dark chocolate during pregnancy was associated with lower blood pressures and a reduced risk of anemia, Italian researchers reported.
Oral glucose tolerance testing revealed no alterations in the 40 women fed dark chocolate, while gestational diabetes was detected in 2 of the 40 controls, Dr. Gian Carlo Di Renzo, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Perugia (Italy), and his colleagues reported in a poster at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
“It is an appealing idea that a food commonly consumed for pure pleasure could also bring tangible benefits for health,” they wrote.
Women were fed dark chocolate beginning at their first prenatal visit at 9-12 weeks. None of the women given dark chocolate developed anemia in pregnancy, but 65% of controls needed iron supplementation starting at 24 weeks' gestation.
The 30 g of chocolate, 70% cocoa content, contained 10 mg of iron, 6 mcg of folic acid, 0.3 mg of vitamin E, 194 mg of theobromine and 29.4 mg of flavonols.
In a prospective cohort of 2,291 pregnant women, Yale University investigators reported that chocolate consumption was associated with a lower risk of preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication that shares many characteristics of cardiovascular disease including endothelial dysfunction (Epidemiology. 2008;19:459-64).
In the current analysis, blood pressure values were lower at all time points during gestation among women eating chocolate. At the final checkup before they gave birth, controls had systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels that were higher by 8.32 mm Hg and 3.76 mm Hg.
The 160-calorie dose of dark chocolate did not affect weight gain. Cesarean section rates were also equivalent at 32% in both groups.
“Dark chocolate is a well-accepted and valuable supplemental food in pregnancy,” they wrote.