We already knew chocolate could be good for the heart and good for the brain but now new research suggests it can also reduce the risk of stroke.
Swedish researchers followed 37,103 men, between the ages of 49 and 75, for more than a decade, and found that those who ate the most chocolate had a 17% lower risk of suffering a stroke.
WebMD says those who ate the most, consumed the equivalent to about 1/3 of a cup of chocolate chips.
CBC quotes study author Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute saying, "These findings suggest that moderate chocolate consumption may lower the risk of stroke." "Because chocolate is high in sugar, saturated fat and calories, it should be consumed in moderation."
The Huffington Post reports that the researchers looked at the results of five previous studies and found that the biggest chocolate eaters had a 19-percent lower risk for stroke compared to those who ate little or none.
Researchers say it's important to note that they only have identified a link between eating chocolate and stroke risk and not a cause-and-effect relationship.
Men are not the only ones who may benefit from eating chocolate either. USA Today reported last year that a study by the same researchers, found that women who ate the most chocolate had a 20% lower risk for stroke.
WebMD says it's also interesting to note that while most studies show health benefits mainly from dark chocolate, the new research seems to indicate milk chocolate is beneficial too. Ninety percent of the chocolate sold in Sweden is milk chocolate.
We have known for a long time that the heart-healthy flavonoids in chocolate are responsible for it's benefits to the heart and to help with memory. The Huffington Post quotes Dr. Larsson saying, "The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate. Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties." "It's also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure."
Dr. Caron Rockman from New York University Langone Medical Center tells WebMD “I don’t think the message should be run out and eat chocolate to prevent stroke.You are better off controlling other known stroke risk factors than eating more chocolate.” The best things to reduce your risk are; not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.