Aug 30 Fancy a chocolate bar? Regularly
indulging in the snack may actually help men decrease their risk
of having a stroke, according to a Swedish study.
Researchers writing in the journal Neurology found that of
more than 37,000 men followed for a decade, those who ate the
most chocolate - typically the equivalent of one-third of a cup
of chocolate chips - had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than
men who avoided chocolate.
The study is hardly the first to link chocolate to
cardiovascular benefits, with several previous ones suggesting
that chocolate fans have lower rates of certain risks for heart
disease and stroke, like high blood pressure.
"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke
may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate," wrote Susanna
Larsson, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, who led the
Another study she conducted last year found similar results
Flavonoids are compounds that act as antioxidants and may
have positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol and blood
vessel function, according to studies.
For the study, 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 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 percent 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.
Larsson's team had information on other factors, such as the
men's weight and other diet habits, whether they smoked and
whether they had high blood pressure. Even with those factors
considered, men who ate the most chocolate had a 17 percent
lower stroke risk.
Other researchers, though, noted that none of the studies to
date have proved that chocolate is the reason for the lower
"It's very important for people to take the news on
chocolate with a grain of salt," said Richard Libman, vice chair
of neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset,
Libman said the theory that flavonoids may have a positive
impact remains just a theory and that a wide range of much
healthier foods also contain flavonoids - such as apples, kale,
broccoli, soy, tea and nuts.
"You can't start advising people to eat chocolate based on
this. Think of the negative effects that could result, like
obesity and type 2 diabetes."
(Reporting from New York by Amy Norton at Reuters Health;
editing by Elaine Lies)