Chocolate: Pregnancy, Health, and Beauty

It's that time of year again; Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Which means it's time to give, receive, and eat chocolate! I'm not sure how or why chocolate became THE go-to gift for THE romantic holiday, but I'm not complaining.

So, in celebration of love, chocolate, and the love of chocolate we're taking a look at some health and beauty benefits of one of my favorite things in the world: CHOCOLATE!

Now, before I dive into the good stuff, let me preface all of this with a gentle reminder (to myself...) that good for you does not mean go hog wild on it. The right kind of chocolate or cocoa has loads of benefits but excess is still excess.

The greatest benefits lie in 70% or higher dark chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powders, and cacao. When I buy cocoa powder or dark chocolate bars, I always look for ones that haven't been alkalized or dutch processed. This type of processing leads to less bitter chocolate, which some people prefer. But it also strips the cocoa of a lot of its health and beauty boosting properties, not at all what we're after.

Benefits of Cocoa

Healthy Pregnancy

Craving chocolate? You are certainly not alone. Cocoa cravings are one of the most common pregnancy food cravings. And there's a chance giving in to that craving might be good for you.

Sure, the study results have been mixed. Some studies suggest chocolate can reduce the risk of preeclampsia and lower blood pressure during pregnancy while others show no effect. But it certainly doesn't seem like reasonable amounts of chocolate hurt our bodies or our babies during pregnancy. So enjoy!

Heart Health

Cocoa is packed with heart healthy nutrients like minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients. Some are known to help keep our blood pressure in a healthy range, others protect our blood vessels from damage and lower our cholesterol, and some actually relax our veins and arteries so blood can flow more easily.

Mood

I don't really know that we needed science to tell us eating chocolate could put us in a better mood, but it's nice to have some proof it's not all in our heads, right?

Whether it's some nutrient or just the feel good effect of eating something tasty that's responsible for it's mood boosting abilities, we aren't really sure yet. What we do know is, chocolate can make us feel calmer and happier.

Beauty

Cocoa is full of nutrients that fight inflammation, oxidative stress, and uv damage, which means it can help keep our skin healthy and fight the signs of aging.

If you are anything like me, you didn't really need to know the benefits to motivate you to eat chocolate. It tastes good, the benefits are just icing on the cake.

Love it so much you wish you could bathe in it? Try out the DIY below.

Chocolate Sea Salt Body Scrub

This body scrub is inspired by my favorite KIND bar, the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar. They are so amazing I just want to bathe in them (is that weird?) This is as close as I can get to doing that without ruining my tub.

Recipe

1/2 cup Almond Oil (or any other body oil)

1 tbsp unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 cup Coarse sea salt or epsom salt

1/2 cup fine sea salt

1. Stir all the ingredients together. Simple, no?