Chocolate has long been highly regarded for its health benefits as well as the taste. Now research has cast lite on another possible way eating chocolate can be good for you. According to a team of Swedish scientists, men who eat chocolate regularly have significantly lower stroke risk.
According to the study author, this among the first to specifically look at the connection between chocolate and stroke, though the cardiovascular benefits of compounds in it are well-studied. In the study, men were asked how much chocolate they eat, and how often. The data from the surveys were collated with hospital discharge data. They found that men who reported not having any over the decade of the study had nearly 21 percent more strokes than the men in the highest consuming group. In fact, every increase of approximately 2 ounces lowered stroke risk by 14 percent. A similar study last year found that chocolate lowers the risk of stroke in women by a similar amount.
Scientists believe the benefit is due to compounds in chocolate called flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants associated with benefits to the cardiovascular system. However, flavonoids are most prevalent in dark chocolate, while the men in the study primarily ate milk chocolate. Other foods rich in flavonoids include berries, red vegetables, and dark berries.
“There is a clear aggregation of research evidence indicating that chocolate, and in particular dark chocolate, confers a heart health benefit,” said nutritionist Dr. David Katz in a statement. “Risk factors for heart disease and stroke are much the same, so it stands to reason that such benefit would extend to stroke”
A study in the British Medical Journal last year also found a lowered stroke risk, by about a third, in people who ate a lot of chocolate. Chocolate is also good for heart health, and it is known to lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and boosts insulin sensitivity, and a recent study suggests that people who eat chocolate in moderation tend to be thinner than those who don’t.