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Chocolate Reduces Stroke Risk

By on September 1, 2012

Just when you thought you knew what was good health and what was ‘indulging,’ here comes a major study finding that men who regularly ate  chocolate had decreased their risk of suffering a stroke. Say what?

The study was based in Sweden not the United States so consider the genetic makeup of the study sample. But Swedish researchers found that 17% of the more than 37,000 men followed for a decade had a lower risk of stroke than men who avoided chocolate. The chocolate-loving group typically had the equivalent of a third of a cup of chocolate chips each week.

The complete study is published in the journal Neurology. 

“It’s very important for people to take the news on chocolate with a grain of salt,” said Dr. Richard B. Libman, vice chair of neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, New York. The study was well done, Libman says but it’s what researchers call an observational study. That means investigators look for patterns, like whether chocolate lovers have fewer strokes. The results cannot prove cause-and-effect.

The study is based on 37,100 Swedish men ages 49 to 75 who reported on their usual intake of chocolate and other foods. Over the next 10 years, 1,995 men suffered a first-time stroke. Among men in the top 25% for chocolate intake, the stroke rate was 73 per 100,000 men per year. That compared with a rate of 85 per 100,000 among men who ate the least chocolate, report the researchers, led by Susanna Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

There are several reasons to believe chocolate could have real effects. “The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate,” Larsson said. Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may, based on studies, have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood vessel function.


Flavonoids are also found in many foods like, berries, citrus, apples, kale, spinach, broccoli, nuts, soy, tea and wine. Remember chocolate in moderation can be helpful, over indulgence can lead to other health issues.


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