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Chocolate may cut women's stroke risk, study says

STAFF REPORTS
Published on Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In the latest research to tout the cardiovascular benefits of an already beloved food, Swedish scientists report that eating chocolate seems to lower a woman’s risk of stroke.

The study found that women who had the highest consumption of chocolate — about two candy bars a week — had a 20 percent reduced risk of stroke.

“Cocoa contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and can suppress oxidation of low-density lipoprotein [’bad’ cholesterol] which can cause cardiovascular disease [including stroke],” explained study author Susanna Larsson, an associate professor in the division of nutritional epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

Chocolate’s benefits don’t end there, Larsson said, adding that dark chocolate consumption has also been found to reduce blood pressure, lower insulin resistance and help keep your blood from forming dangerous clots.

But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should start adding chocolate to your daily menu.

“It’s important to keep findings like these in context. These findings don’t mean that people need to exchange chocolate for broccoli in their diet,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, a cardiologist and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

“Chocolate does have antioxidants, and antioxidants are beneficial for your health. They can help make your arteries more flexible and they can help you resist the oxidation of cholesterol. But, what if they had tried this study with apple skins or grapes?” she said.

While the study found an association between chocolate and reduced stroke risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect.

The findings are published as research correspondence in the Oct. 18 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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