Study: Chocolate lovers have a lower risk of stroke

the news is getting sweeter, chocolate has been linked to blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease and now a new study, a lower risk of stroke in women.

Even better, the more chocolate delivered to women, the lower the risk of stroke, researchers in Sweden. For every 50 grams (1.8 oz) increased consumption of chocolate per week, the risk of stroke in general participants fell 14%. The protective effect seems to kick in 45 g (1.6 oz) of chocolate a week, with women in the highest consumption group - (. 2.4 oz) who consumed an average of 66.5 g, or between and two chocolate bars a week - enjoy a 20% lower risk of stroke than those who ate less.

When broken down by type of stroke - ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a clot, compared with bleeding, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain weakens and breaks - a variety of benefits protectors of chocolate. Each increase of 50 grams per week consumption of chocolate was associated with a fall of 27% in the risk of hemorrhagic stroke, compared to 12% lower risk of strokes caused by clots. Why the effect was greater with a type of stroke was unclear, the authors wrote.

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Directed by Susanna Larsson, associate professor in the division of nutritional epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, researchers followed 33,372 women from 49 to 83 for about 10 years until 2008. At baseline, women completed questionnaires about their diet and longer life style, including how often they ate chocolate and other foods around 95 in the previous year.

Over the next decade, the researchers recorded 1,549 strokes, including 1,200 ischemic strokes, 224 hemorrhagic strokes and 125 which were not specified. The protective effect of chocolate consumption on the risk of stroke in women persists even after the researchers adjusted for other risk factors for stroke. The results align with previous research on the subject.

The potential benefits to the health of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, have been widely attributed to its flavonoids, antioxidant compounds in cocoa that can stimulate the cardiovascular system. In other studies, researchers have shown that flavonoids can improve blood flow by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. You can also inhibit platelet aggregation and reduce inflammation, which contribute to cardiovascular health.

The question is: Do women start gorging on chocolate to ward off a stroke? Not exactly. On the one hand, chocolate is decadent and is intended to be eaten in moderation. "Excessive consumption of chocolate is probably not good, as chocolate is high in sugar, fat and calories and can lead to weight gain, which increases the risk of chronic diseases," says Larsson.

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Chocolate is not the only food that contains antioxidants, of course. "It's important to have results like these in context. These findings do not mean that people need in exchange for chocolate for broccoli in their diet," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York, told Reuters Health. "Chocolate has antioxidants, and antioxidants are beneficial to your health. ... But what if they had tried in this study with the skins of apples or grapes?"

While the study adds to evidence that chocolate can be good for cardiovascular health, observational nature can not prove a direct effect. Their dependence on the women self-reports of diet and lifestyle further limit your results.

The authors also note that 90% of the chocolate consumed in Sweden at the time of the survey was the Swedish milk chocolate, which contains about 30% cocoa solids - a much higher concentration than Americans are used to eat. So if you're taking a bar of chocolate, the author suggests the choice of black chocolate, at least 70% cocoa, which has more antioxidants and less sugar than milk chocolate.

"The consumption of chocolate in moderation, and preferably dark chocolate, with a high intake of antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of stroke," says Larsson.

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The study was published as a research letter in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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