Eating a moderate amount of chocolate can lower the risk of stroke in men, according to a team of researchers who analysed the data of more than 30,100 men aged between 49 and 75 from Sweden.
"While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind study to find that chocolate may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men," said Susanna C Larsson, scientist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
During the study, participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire regarding their food habits such as how often they consumed various foods and drinks; they were also asked how often they had chocolate.
The study found that men who ate the largest amount of chocolate, about one-third of a cup of chocolate chips (63 grams), had a lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume any chocolate.
Scientists also found that eating the highest amount of chocolate had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke.
In a larger analysis of five studies that included 4,260 stroke cases, the risk of stroke for individuals in the highest category of chocolate consumption was 19 percent lower compared to non-chocolate consumers. For every increase in chocolate consumption of 50 grams per week, or about a quarter cup of chocolate chips, the risk of stroke decreased by about 14 percent, according to a Eurekalert report.
"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate. Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties. It's also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure," said Larsson.
According to him, dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but about 90 percent of the chocolate intake in Sweden, including what was consumed during the study, is milk chocolate.