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Chocolate linked to stroke prevention

Scientists in Sweden have found that consuming moderate amounts of chocolate each week may mean a lower risk of stroke

Stockholm, Sweden – Not that most consumers need another reason to eat chocolate, but here’s one that’s really convincing.

Scientists at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet have found that eating a moderate amount of chocolate each week may be associated with a lower risk of stroke. And it doesn’t matter if it’s dark or light chocolate.

The Karolinska Institutet says the findings are based on data from more than 37,000 men. The research has been published in the online issue of the journal Neurology.

Chocolate’s benefits

Dr. Susanna Larsson, the study’s author, says that past studies have focused on how chocolate may affect cardiovascular health. But this study is the first to find that “chocolate may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men.”

For the study, 37,103 Swedish men ages 49 to 75 were given a food questionnaire that assessed how often they consumed various foods and drinks and were asked how often they had chocolate.

Researchers then identified stroke cases through the Swedish national hospital discharge registry. Over 10 years, there were 1,995 cases of first stroke.

Men in the study who ate the largest amount of chocolate, about 63 grams of chocolate chips per week, had a 17 per cent lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume any chocolate.

Risk lower in chocolate consumers

In a larger meta-analysis of five studies that included 4,260 stroke cases, the risk of stroke for individuals in the highest category of chocolate consumption was 19 per cent lower compared to non-chocolate consumers.

For every increase in chocolate consumption of 50 grams per week, the risk of stroke decreased by about 14 per cent.

An interesting finding in the study was that it didn’t seem to matter whether the chocolate was dark or light for it to be beneficial to the health.

Dark or milk chocolate – doesn’t matter

“Dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but about 90 per cent of the chocolate intake in Sweden, including what was consumed during our study, is milk chocolate,” says Larsson.

The scientists believe that the beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate.

The association between chocolate consumption and stroke could not be explained by already established risk factors for the disease.

However, as the current study was only an observational study the researchers can’t rule out the possibility of any other factor than the chocolate to be beneficial.