Hot chocolate is a delicious and comforting drink for millions of people around the world.
It’s warming, comforting and highly satisfying, so it’s no wonder you can fit it among the most popular cravings of pregnant women.
But is a cup of hot chocolate something pregnant women can safely drink, or should it be avoided during your pregnancy?
The good news is hot chocolate (and chocolate in general) is generally safe for pregnant women to drink, although it should be consumed in moderation and you should also consider how much sugar, fat and caffeine you get from other sources each day.
Let’s take a look at the benefits, disadvantages and risks of drinking hot chocolate while pregnant in more detail.
Can You Drink Hot Chocolate While Pregnant?
As with many pregnancy and baby topics, eating or drinking chocolate during pregnancy is something that’s been hotly debated for years.
Particularly as to fully ascertain the risks there are other factors involved, including:
- How much you chocolate you drink.
- How often you drink hot chocolate.
- The type of chocolate / percentage of cocoa or cacao and therefore the amount of sugar.
Below are some of the key things to know before deciding whether or not to eat a few pieces of chocolate or drink a hot chocolate while pregnant.
As always, you should also ensure ingredients such as milk, cream and butter are pasteurized.
Benefits of Drinking Hot Chocolate While Pregnant
Apart from satisfying your craving, drinking hot chocolate could have some other benefits, including:
Research shows that consuming chocolate can reduce stress in both highly stressed, as well as normally stressed people.
In addition, dark chocolate is said to have mood-boosting properties because eating or drinking chocolate can stimulate the production of endorphins.
We just saw that chocolate can increase the amount of endorphins that are released into your brain, which can help you feel better.
Feeling better will help you become more comfortable, but there’s another reason why drinking hot chocolate may be comforting, and it comes down to more phycological reasons.
If you grew up drinking hot chocolate with friends or loves ones, or it’s something you turn to when you need comforting, then the drink has nostalgic or sentimental value to you.
When you’re going through pregnancy your body is under a lot of stress and you may feel overwhelmed at times, so turning to a cup of hot chocolate can be a great way to get some rest bite and instantly feel better.
Hot chocolate contains both caffeine and sugar (more on these later).
This means that just like protein shakes, drinking hot chocolate can given you a much needed energy boost when you’re feeling tired.
While it’s clearly not something you should regularly turn to as a source of nutrition, the odd cup of hot chocolate can give you a tasty pick-me-up just when you need it most.
Chocolate (especially dark chocolate) is naturally rich in antioxidants.
Studies show that cocoa has 2 times the amount of antioxidants as a glass of red wine and 3 times as much as green tea.
Antioxidants like polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, can help lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.
Disadvantages of Drinking Hot Chocolate While Pregnant
So far so good – if you’re like most moms-to-be then the benefits of drinking hot chocolate listed above are probably music to your ears.
However, there are also some major drawbacks to consuming too much chocolate, which is why, as with most foods, moderation is advised.
Frustratingly, the amount of caffeine that pregnant women should consume while pregnant is not something that’s universally agreed on.
The good news is that although chocolate contains caffeine, the levels are relatively low.
According to the USDA, one cup of hot chocolate contains around 5mg of caffeine.
However, a hot chocolate from Starbucks contains five times as much, with a Grande 16fl oz hot chocolate containing 25mg of caffeine.
While this is still well below the 200mg daily limit, the key thing to consider is how much caffeine you’re getting from other sources.
So if you also drink coffee, green tea or other caffeinated drinks in addition to hot chocolate, you may find yourself reaching or exceeding the recommended caffeine levels for pregnant women.
High In Sugar
Just like protein bars, chocolate is high in sugar and calories, so this is a major reason why hot chocolate isn’t something to overconsume.
While dark chocolate contains less sugar, it does have more caffeine, which as we saw above is something that should also be consumed in moderation when pregnant.
High In Fat
While a hot chocolate is undoubtedly delicious, it is unfortunately high in fat.
Going back to the Starbucks example, a Grande Hot Chocolate contains 50% of you recommended daily saturated fat intake.
So as with sugar and caffeine, when weighting up if you can drink hot chocolate while pregnant, you should consider what else you’re eating on a daily basis as well.
Is It Normal To Crave Hot Chocolate During Pregnancy?
Craving chocolate or hot chocolate while pregnant is very normal, in fact it’s one of the most popular pregnancy cravings according to pregnancy craving research.
It is thought that pregnant women crave hot chocolate for several reasons including:
- Drinking hot chocolate provides a sugar boost, which will give you a temporary increase in energy.
- For many women, hot chocolate is a comforting foods that provides more value than purely nutrition. This is because it may have nostalgic or sentimental value or provide other positive feelings.
Some moms-to-be may be craving hot chocolate because it contains contains B vitamins and because dark chocolate has antioxidants.
However, for a lot of women it’s more likely that your craving is due to chocolate’s mood boosting capabilities and its ability to reduces stress.
Is Cocoa Powder Safe During Pregnancy?
As an ingredient by itself, although cocoa powder is relatively high in caffeine, it is low in sugar and fat.
However, because raw cocoa has a bitter taste, almost all the chocolate we buy contains sugar (unless you it’s a 100% cocoa bar).
When deciding if you can eat cocoa powder while pregnant, the main thing to consider is what you’ll be mixing it with.
So the more sugar, butter and full fat milk or whipped cream you add to cocoa powder, the less healthy it will be.
One tablespoon of cocoa powder also contains 12mg of caffeine.
Although this is well below the maximum 200mg of caffeine advisable for pregnant women, it may be significant depending on how much caffeine you consumer from other sources.
Can You Drink Chocolate Milk During Pregnancy?
Yes, provided you consider the factors above – such as your daily sugar, fat and caffeine intake, then it should be fine to drink chocolate milk during pregnancy.
As a general rule, the less sweet the milk and fewer artificial ingredients or sweeteners, the healthier the drink will be.
Can You Drink Hot Chocolate During Your First Trimester?
Overall, it’s fine to occasionally drink hot chocolate during your first and second trimesters, provided you don’t drink it in excessive amounts and take into consideration other sources of fat, sugar and caffeine in your diet.
With regards to the third trimester, there is not much evidence to suggest chocolate is unsafe, although it’s worth noting that in one study researchers did find that dark chocolate can cause a rare condition whereby too much blood circulates into your baby’s heart and lungs.
- Hot chocolate is one of the most popular cravings among pregnant women, because it’s delicious, provides an energy boost and can be instantly comforting.
- Drinking hot chocolate also has some disadvantages however, because the drink is often high in fat, sugar, caffeine and calories.
- There can be wide nutritional differences between store bought and home made hot chocolate, so it’s best to check nutritional information wherever possible.
- The key thing to consider when assessing whether to drink hot chocolate during your pregnancy is how much caffeine, sugar and saturated fat you’re getting from other sources.
- As with most food and drink, moderation is key, so provided you make other healthier choices, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a lovely cup of hot chocolate during your pregnancy.
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