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Chocolate reduces men's stroke risk: study

Kimberly Gillan
Friday, August 31, 2012
Thinkstock

Men who eat chocolate regularly could have a lower risk of stroke, according to a Swedish study.

When researchers compared men who ate little or no chocolate with men who ate about a third of a cup, they found they were 17 percent less likely to suffer a stroke.

The researchers surveyed 37,000 Swedish men aged 49 to 75. After looking at hospital discharge registries, they found that over the course of 10 years, 1995 of the men had suffered strokes.

"While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind to find that chocolate may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men," study author Dr Susanna C Larsson from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said in a media release.

The researchers believe it's because of 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.

"Interestingly, dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but about 90 percent of the chocolate intake consumed during our study is milk chocolate."

When the researchers analysed five further studies that included 4260 men who had suffered strokes, they found people who ate more chocolate were 19 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who avoided the sweet stuff.

But this study comes after yesterday's ninemsn report that chocolate and red wine's benefits can't be proven.

Dr Robert Grenfell, clinical issues director at the Heart Foundation, warned that the high number of calories in chocolate could outweigh any antioxidant benefits.

"Chocolate and red wine are often credited with having a positive influence on health due to their antioxidant properties, but there are much better ways to get those benefits," he said.

"The best way to get enough antioxidants is to eat a variety of plant based foods, such as vegetables, fruit, legumes, wholegrain breads and cereals as well as nuts and seeds every day."

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

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