A new study ties eating chocolate to benefits for baby (as if you needed another excuse to indulge!).

pregnant woman eating chocolate
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In perhaps the best news ever for pregnant women, a new Canadian study finds that eating chocolate while expecting is actually good for your baby!

I'll wait while you grab the closest bar of sweet stuff...

Specifically, researchers at the Université Laval Québec City say munching on high-flavanol chocolates can boost fetal growth and make the placenta work more efficiently. Why? The reason may have something to do with what flavanols are: basically anti-oxidant rich nutrients, which are found naturally in cocoa, and have already been proven to boost circulation and possess heart-healthy benefits.

Researchers say indulging in the yummy treat may also help prevent preeclampsia, a dangerous form of high-blood pressure during pregnancy.

To prove what pregnant women have wanted to be true for years, namely that chocolate is beneficial for baby, researchers looked at 129 women with single pregnancies, who were between 11 and 14 weeks along. Some ate low-flavanol chocolates, while others ate the high-flavanol version; both groups consumed about 30 grams, or about a third of a bar, daily for 12 weeks.

Using a measurement called the Doppler pulsatility index, researchers were able to determine that both groups showed improved uterine, placental, and fetal circulations. "This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development, and that chocolate's effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content," says Dr. Emmanual Bujold.

So it seems any form of everyone's favorite treat is beneficial for baby. Bottoms, er, bars up!

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.