Uncovering the Truth About
Chocolate and Fertility

Written by: Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA

Edited by: Dr. Ashley Eskew MD, MSCI

Last updated: December 17th, 2020

Woman holding chocolate bar with questions about fertility

What if there was a dessert you could enjoy while trying to conceive?

One that actually supports your natural fertility!

Well if we had to pick one food to indulge in, it would have to be chocolate (and not just because it happens to be our favorite dessert). 

But what about all the sugar and fat?

And the caffeine too? 

When it comes to eating chocolate when you’re trying to conceive, there are a few things we think you should know – especially when those social media posts tell you to ditch all the sweets.

The Best Type of Chocolate for Fertility

Not all chocolate is created equal – sorry white chocolate fans.

Pick up a chocolate bar at the checkout counter and here’s what you’re likely to find: milk solids, sugar, soy lecithin, natural flavorings, and so on. 

By the way, why does chocolate need ‘natural flavoring’ added? 

Okay, back on track…

Chocolate is effectively made from cacao beans. Not to create any confusion, but you may also see these referred to as cocoa beans. Either way, these beans are typically grown in tropical environments. Once removed from their pods, raw cacao beans are fermented, dried, and roasted. 

Along the way, various amounts of cacao are used to make the final product. 

Standard milk chocolate typically contains ~ 30% cacao along with milk and sugar. And in case you’re wondering why that latter 2 ingredients might not be helping your efforts to conceive, you can learn more about dairy and sugar in our related posts about these topics. 

Of course, when you leave out the milk solids and go easy on the sugar, you get dark chocolate!

Dark chocolate typically contains ~ 70% (or more) cacao and much less added sugar. As many of you might know, the higher the percentage of cacao, the more bitter the chocolate begins to taste.

Now we know what you might be thinking… “I just can’t get down with the bitterness of dark chocolate.” Well, fear not our milk chocolate loving friend… We have some recipe inspiration for you at the end of this post that will be the perfect complement to that “bitter” taste. 

Reproductive Health Benefits of Chocolate

Onto the exciting stuff, how dark chocolate can benefit your health – reproductive health included!

There are many micronutrients found in dark chocolate, including the pro-fertility nutrient iron.

In fact, just a 3.5-ounce piece of chocolate contains:

  • List Icon

    67% of the RDA for Iron.

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    58% of the RDA for Magnesium.

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    89% of the RDA for Copper.

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    98% of the RDA for Manganese.

It also has plenty of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. All these minerals are vital for your reproductive health and overall wellness.

Beyond its micronutrient content, dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, raw cacao beans have a higher antioxidant capacity than acai berries or blueberries. 

Other plant-based nutrients found in dark chocolate are flavonoids. Despite the strange name, flavonoids have the ability to dilate the arteries in your body, which can promote blood flow to vital organs. The same is also true for arginine found in dark chocolate. Arginine is a precursor to the vasodilating molecule nitric oxide. We know you’re focused on optimizing your reproductive health, but naturally dilating your blood vessels is great for lowering the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 

Interestingly enough, dark chocolate may also have the ability to lessen insulin resistance. This is good news for women who have PCOS because insulin resistance and blood sugar dysregulation is a part of this potential cause of infertility. 

Finally, it wouldn’t be fair to leave the topic of dark chocolate without mentioning its positive impact on your mood! 

Chocolate is a top dietary source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness. In fact, in one study, people who ate dark chocolate were 70% less likely to report symptoms of depression. We know it goes without saying, but this is huge given the rollercoaster of emotions that occur when TTC.

Benefits of Chocolate for Fertility

How Much Chocolate Can You Eat?

With all the benefits that go along with dark chocolate, the question of how much one can eat always comes up. 

No denying it, dark chocolate is a nutrient-dense food… one that can sneakily contribute to weight gain if you’re not careful.

In fact, a 6-oz bar of chocolate has about 800 calories, 48 grams of which come from fat. Of course, you’ve already learned not to fear fat entirely. But still, that’s a lot of calories from fat. 

In moderation, everything is okay, right? 

You bet 🙂 

We typically recommend no more than 1-2 squares of dark chocolate per day if you’d like to enjoy this superfood as part of your pro-fertility diet.

Remember, it’s all about balance!

You may encounter some recommendations to avoid dark chocolate when trying to conceive due to its caffeine content. But the amount of caffeine you’ll get from 1-2 squares is absolutely nothing to fret about, especially if your overall caffeine consumption is < 200mg/day.

Chocolate Recipe Inspiration

Okay, we promised you some chocolate recipe inspiration for your fertility journey. 

And this is a tough one. 

So many chocolate recipes to choose from!

Dark chocolate fudge… dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate truffles – YUM. 

One of the easiest everyday strategies for taking advantage of dark chocolate (even if you don’t like the slight bitterness) is with a fertility-boosting smoothie. 

Here is one of our favorites:

Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Smoothie

Dark chocolate smoothie for fertility

Ingredients:

Instructions

Mix all ingredients in a blender or smoothie maker until smooth. Pour into your favorite BPA free container and sprinkle with hemp hearts or cacao nibs. 

Enjoy!

And if you’re looking for more chocolate-filled recipes for your fertility journey, you’ll absolutely love our Fertility Dessert Cookbook that’s included with The Ultimate Fertility Superfoods Guide!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, our take on why it’s okay to enjoy a few servings of chocolate (the dark kind) when trying to conceive. 

Just remember, by eating high-quality dark chocolate with > 70% cacao you are getting a great dose of antioxidants along with some other chemicals to boost your mood.

All good things when it comes to TTC!

With Love & Empowerment,
Dr. Ashley Eskew and Dr. Will Haas

Whenever you’re ready… discover how to use fertility-boosting superfoods (like cacao) to enhance your reproductive health today.

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