Chocolate may cut risk of stroke, says study
In a new study from The Journal of the American College of Cardiology researchers found a relationship between chocolate and reduced stroke risk.
The study found that women who ate two candy bars per week had a 20 percent less chance of having a stroke than those who did not.
"Cocoa contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and can suppress oxidation of low-density lipoprotein ['bad' cholesterol] which can cause cardiovascular disease [including stroke]," said study author and Karolinska Institute Associate Professor Susanna Larsson.
Chocolate has long been thought of as healthy in small doses. Its ingestion has many benefits, including the ability to lower the blood pressure, lower insulin resistance and keep your blood from forming clots. Larsson said that the health benefits of chocolate are still not good enough to swap it for something like broccoli. She said people who eat moderate amounts of chocolate should still eat healthy in the rest of their meals.
"It's important to keep findings like these in context. These findings don't mean that people need to exchange chocolate for broccoli in their diet," said cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health. "Chocolate does have antioxidants, and antioxidants are beneficial for your health. They can help make your arteries more flexible and they can help you resist the oxidation of cholesterol. But, what if they had tried this study with apple skins or grapes?"
The researchers studied 33,000 women between the ages of 49 and 83 beginning in 1997. All of the women were given a questionnaire to fill out asking about their diets and lifestyle. The study was conducted in Sweden and at the time it began the cocoa was more concentrated there than it is in the United States.
"We observed that women with the highest consumption of chocolate [an average of about 2.3 ounces per week] had a significant 20 percent lower risk [of stroke] than those who never or rarely consumed chocolate," said Larsson.