How Much Chocolate Is Safe When You Are Pregnant?

Pregnant woman eating chocolate
Chocolate contains beneficial nutrients. (Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images)

Pregnancy requires caution when it comes to certain foods that increase the risk of harm to your baby and could compromise your pregnancy. Chocolate is safe to eat while you are pregnant and may even offer health benefits in moderate amounts. Each pregnancy is different, so discuss any dietary concerns with your doctor. The amount of chocolate that is safe to eat will differ depending on the health circumstances surrounding your pregnancy.

Fat and Calories

Chocolate may offer health benefits, but eating too much of it during pregnancy could mean you are getting too much fat and too many calories, which may cause excessive weight gain. Becoming too heavy during pregnancy can result in gestational diabetes, fatigue, varicose veins, high blood pressure and an increased chance of having to undergo a cesarean section delivery. An ounce and a half of milk chocolate contains 235 calories and 13 g of fat, and a similar amount of dark chocolate has 290 calories and 19 g of fat.

Caffeine

During pregnancy you must monitor your caffeine intake and limit it to no more than 200 milligrams per day. Too much caffeine has been linked to miscarriage, the March of Dimes reports. Chocolate contains some caffeine, and if you eat it in combination with coffee, tea and soft drinks, you may be exceeding the amount considered healthy during pregnancy. A 1.5-ounce serving of milk chocolate contains 9 milligrams of caffeine, and the same amount of dark chocolate has 43 milligrams.

Sugar

Chocolate is often high in sugar, with about 23 grams per 1.5 ounces of milk chocolate and about 18 grams for a similar amount of dark chocolate. During pregnancy, consuming too much sugar increases your risk of excessive weight gain, gestational diabetes and dental health issues. Your obstetrician can help you determine what is a safe amount of sugar for you and your developing baby, which will help you figure out how much chocolate you can safely eat.

Health Benefits

Eating a serving of chocolate now and then is not likely to harm your pregnancy and may even offer health benefits. A 1.5-ounce serving of dark chocolate has 31 milligrams of calcium, and the same amount of milk chocolate contains 83 milligrams. Calcium is important for your developing baby's bones and teeth. Chocolate also contains antioxidants, which protect your and your baby's immunity and reduce the risk of health complications like heart disease and cancer. In a study reported in the May 2008 issue of "Epidemiology," Yale researchers found that chocolate intake during pregnancy reduced the risk of preeclampsia by up to 70 percent. Preeclampsia is characterized by high blood pressure and high protein levels in your urine. The condition can cause death to you or your baby in severe cases. The study notes that dark chocolate, in the amount of five or more servings per week, was most effective in preventing preeclampsia when consumed in the third trimester of pregnancy.

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