A Daily Nibble of Chocolate

When I was pregnant with my first child, I learned about a study in which researchers measured how chocolate consumption in pregnancy affected a mother’s perception of her infant’s fussiness. The researchers discovered that women who reported daily consumption of chocolate were more positive about their child’s temperament. They hypothesized that eating chocolate provided the mothers with subjective feelings of well-being, and this may have had impacts at environmental and psychological levels. That was all the data I needed to enforce a daily nibble of chocolate into my prenatal repertoire.

After eating a piece of chocolate, you can probably relate to those feelings of “subjective well-being.” This study that I mentioned is just a tiny piece of a growing body of evidence that points to the health-promoting properties of chocolate. Researchers have found strong correlations to chocolate consumption and cardiovascular benefits, particularly related to improvements in blood pressure and reduced stress on the arterial walls of the blood vessels. New research has broadened this impact, suggesting that daily consumption of small amounts of chocolate may reduce diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk and possibly support cognitive and even athletic performance.

Here’s the best part - you don’t need a lot of chocolate in order to match the amounts used in these studies. Many of them found positive effects with small amounts (1-2 ounces, less than half of a standard chocolate bar). So if you splurge on a high-quality fair trade chocolate bar, you can savor it throughout the week and enjoy its health benefits and the knowledge that you’ve extended additional benefits to global communities, too.

Written by Candice Gormley