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Talking Chocolate

Talk about a sweet tooth: Americans will reportedly spend a whopping $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, with a substantial chunk of that spent on, naturally, chocolate—58 million pounds of it to be exact. According to the National Confectioners Association, 69 percent of adults would even happily take chocolate over flowers on the big day.

And candy connoisseurs have had a lot to chew on during the last few months, from record prices of cocoa (and the resulting chocolate) to the recent announcement that British candy brand Cadbury will stop exporting its chocolate overseas (R.I.P., Dairy Milk).

But for pregnant women, getting a heart-shaped box of truffles this weekend can be both a blessing and a curse. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, called flavonoids, and may have blood-pressure-lowering properties. (Studies have shown that chocolate can help relax blood vessels, therefore reducing pressure.) And, of course, it’s delicious.

Sadly, however, chocolate is a substantial cause of acid reflux, which isn’t the best news for pregnant women, who already tend to experience the uncomfortable condition. (Blame slower digestion.) Why? Chocolate’s high fat content (fat tends to cause heartburn) and caffeine (which has been found to relax a ring of muscle at the intersection of the stomach and the esophagus that is responsible for keeping stomach acid at bay) play a role. And while dark chocolate may be less of an offender since it is lower in fat than the milk variety, you might not be able to sidestep the burn completely.

So take it slow and eat your truffles in moderation. And if you need to take a break from your candy crush during your pregnancy, there is fortunately nothing stopping you from developing a love affair with long-stemmed roses.

Looking for a decadent and healthy treat to make for your Valentine? Try these black bean brownies from Running on Veggies.


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