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Chocolate Lowers the Risk of Stroke

Eating chocolate may help save your life. According to Swedish researchers, eating this sweet delight helps lower a woman's risk of having a stroke. Two chocolate bars a week would spell a 20 percent drop.

“Cocoa contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and can suppress oxidation of low-density lipoprotein [bad cholesterol] which can cause cardiovascular disease [including stroke],” Prof. Susanna Larsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, explained.

Dark chocolate, in particular, has been found to lower blood pressure and insulin resistance, Prof. Larsson added. It also prevents dangerous blood clot formation.

For this study, Prof. Larsson and her team examined the records of 33,000 Swedish women aged 49 to 83. When the study began in 1997, these women did not have a history of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or stroke.

Over 1,500 women suffered a stroke—1,200 had ischemic stroke, while about 200 suffered from hemorrhagic stroke.

But these findings do not imply that you should incorporate chocolate in your daily meals. Cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg of NYU Langone Medical Center said, “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.”

While the study created a link between chocolate and stroke, according to Dr. Goldberg, this did not prove cause-and-effect.

“Chocolate does have antioxidants, and antioxidants are beneficial for your health,” Dr. Goldberg added. “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?”

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