The scientific community has released yet more good news about the health benefits of chocolate – moderate consumption may reduce the risk of stroke in men. Earlier studies have shown this delectable food reduces the risk of stroke in women, as well as enhances the health of the heart and brain in both sexes. This latest word of cheer gives male chocolate lovers one more reason to indulge in this treat, as long as they do not overdo it.
Author Susanna Larsson tells Fox News that it made sense to explore chocolate’s effect on stroke, given that it has already been shown to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for this cardiovascular event. So the next logical step was to look at stroke.
In the research, scientists examined the dietary habits of 37,000 Swedish men and followed them for 10 years, identifying close to 2,000 participants who suffered a stroke during this period. The findings revealed that men who ate approximately one third of a cup of chocolate chips lowered their stroke risk by 17 percent compared to those who avoided chocolate. Even after factoring in other risk factor data collected on the men, such as obesity, high blood pressure and smoking, the results still held.
Although most of the men in the study ate milk chocolate, Larsson expects the results would have been the same with the dark variety. However, she recommends dark chocolate as the better choice because it would only be necessary to eat half the amount to get the same benefit. Eating less of this rich food would reduce the risk of weight gain, explains Larsson.
While the scientists do not know exactly why chocolate produced the benefit, Larsson postulates it may be due to the flavonoid content, compounds that appear to enhance cardiovascular health through antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting effects. “There are several potential mechanisms,” she says.
Since chocolate is high in fat, sugar and calories, Larsson and other experts stress limiting its consumption to a moderate amount. Rather than focusing solely on the chocolate, the authors advocate exercise and eating a healthful diet.
Even though a cause-effect relationship between chocolate and reduced stroke risk has not been established, the association between the two has definitely been proven. The study was published in the online version of the journal Neurology.
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