Chocolate Lovers, Rejoice

Study: Women who ate more chocolate had lower risk of stroke

Here’s some sweet news: A recent study shows women who ate the equivalent of two chocolate bars per week had a 20 percent lower risk of having a stroke.

Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm, Sweden, looked at the effect of chocolate on more than 33,000 women between the ages of 49 and 83. The women were asked how often they ate chocolate and 95 other foods during the previous year.

“The end result of this study is that women who ate more chocolate had a lower risk of stroke,” says Javier Provencio, MD, an intensive care doctor at Cleveland Clinic’s Neurological Institute. “We don’t know why they had a lower risk of stroke, and that needs to be further investigated.”

Researchers believe chocolate with higher concentrations of cocoa may provide the most benefit.

Cocoa and chocolate contain compounds called flavanols, which are found in plant-based foods. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research indicates that flavanols have other positive influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart, making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, and lowering cholesterol.

Dr. Provencio, who did not take part in the study, says chocolate appears to have some health benefits in moderation. “For right now, it seems that chocolate is not bad – it may be helpful. But it also has risks to consider, such as weight gain and diabetes control, and everybody should think about that carefully before indulging too much.”

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