August 30, 2012

Chocolate may protect the brain from strokes: study

Eating a small bar of chocolate every week can dramatically slash the risk of stroke in men, a new study has claimed.

A study on more than 37,000 Swedish men showed those eating chocolates were the least likely to have a stroke.

It follows on from other studies that have suggested eating chocolate can improve the health of the heart, the 'BBC News' reported.

The participants were asked about their eating habits and their health was monitored for a decade.

They were split into four groups based on the amount of chocolate, with the bottom group eating, on average, no chocolate each week and the top group having 63 grams, slightly more than an average bar.

The study found those eating the most chocolate were 17 per cent less likely to have a stroke.

"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate," said Prof Susanna Larsson, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

"Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties," said Larssonon, who is one of the researchers.

"It's also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure."

The study also noted that while dark chocolate had been linked to benefits for the heart in the past, milk chocolate was the preferred option in Sweden and in the study.

"Past research has shown that eating dark chocolate might go some way to reducing your stroke risk if it is eaten as part of a healthy, balanced diet," said Dr Clare Walton, from the Stroke Association, UK.

"This study suggests that eating a moderate amount of other types of chocolate could also be beneficial in men," Walton said.

However, the authors warned of the high sugar and fat content of chocolate.

"It should be consumed in moderation," they said. The study was published in the journal 'Neurology'.