Fancy a chocolate bar? Regularly indulging in the snack may
actually help men decrease their risk of having a stroke,
according to a Swedish study.
Researchers writing in the journal Neurology found that of
more than 37,000 men followed for a decade, those who ate the
most chocolate - typically the equivalent of one-third of a
cup of chocolate chips - had a 17 percent lower risk of
stroke than men who avoided chocolate.
The study is hardly the first to link chocolate to
cardiovascular benefits, with several previous ones
suggesting that chocolate fans have lower rates of certain
risks for heart disease and stroke, like high blood pressure.
"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may
be related to the flavonoids in chocolate," wrote Susanna
Larsson, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led
Another study she conducted last year found similar results
Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may
have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and
blood vessel function, according to studies.
For the study, 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 reported on
their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the
next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke.
Among men in the top 25 percent for chocolate intake, the
stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year. That compared
with a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least
chocolate, report the researchers.
Larsson's team had information on other factors, such as the
men's weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and
whether they had high blood pressure. Even with those factors
considered, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 percent
lower stroke risk.
Other researchers, though, noted that none of the studies to
date have proved that chocolate is the reason for the lower
"It's very important for people to take the news on chocolate
with a grain of salt," said Richard Libman, vice chair of
neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset,
Libman said the theory that flavonoids may have a positive
impact remains just a theory and that a wide range of much
healthier foods also contain flavonoids - such as apples,
kale, broccoli, soy, tea and nuts.
"You can't start advising people to eat chocolate based on
this. Think of the negative effects that could result, like
obesity and type 2 diabetes." SOURCE: http://bit.ly/UcacJ
(Reporting from New York by Amy Norton at Reuters Health;
editing by Elaine Lies)