Could chocolate lower the risk of stroke?
Published Friday, February 12, 2010 8:47AM EST
Need more reason to eat chocolate this Valentine's Day weekend? Here's one: Canadian researchers have found that eating a little bit of chocolate each week may lower the risk of having a stroke.
What's more, it may also decrease the odds of dying from one.
Researchers form McMaster University in Hamilton have reviewed three studies on chocolate and stroke and say two of them suggest that chocolate might lower the risk of stroke.
The first study, from 2007, looked at more than 34,000 postmenopausal women as part of the Iowa Women's Health Study. It noted that those who ate one serving of chocolate per week were 22 per cent less likely to have a stroke than people who ate no chocolate.
The second study showed that 1,169 people in Sweden who ate 50 grams of chocolate (about the size of the average chocolate bar) once a week were 46 per cent less likely to die after a stroke compared to people who didn't.
A third study included in the review found no link between chocolate and risk of death from stroke.
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids. Previous research has suggested those compounds, which are also found in vegetables, tea and red wine, have a number of health benefits, including its actions as an anti-inflammatory.
McMaster researcher Sarah Sahib said more research would be needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others.
Neurologist Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, who worked with Sahib, notes that chocolate can also be dangerous to cardiovascular health.
"Eating too much chocolate can make you fat as chocolate also contains saturated fats," he told The Telegraph in England.
Saposnik also noted that future studies need to address which component in chocolate, the amount, and which kind — white, milk or dark — might be beneficial to heart and vascular health.
The results of the review will be presented in April at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Toronto.