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Lower Stroke Risk and Heart Stress with Dark Chocolate

Here's a great way to lower your risk of stroke and heart problems: Eat dark chocolate. Researchers from Finland discovered that it can lower stroke risk, particularly in patients suffering from atrial fibrillation. These patients have a stroke risk that is five times more than people without atrial fibrillation, the National Stroke Association said.

Stroke results when a blood clot develops in the brain or when a blood vessel bursts. In the U.S., stroke is the leading cause of disability. In the Finnish study, researchers found that people who consumed 63 grams of dark chocolate per week have a lower risk of stroke compared to those who didn't eat chocolate.

According to Everyday Health columnist Dr. T. Jared Bunch, “Dark chocolate helps reduce blood pressure and may have a role in coronary artery disease stability and diabetes. So dark chocolate may help lower stroke risk.” Dr. Bunch, however, warned that this does not mean one should stop taking prescribed medication and eat chocolate instead.

Dark chocolate is also found to relieve heart stress. Stress, a leading contributing factor for heart disease, is significantly reduced with this tasty treat, a June 2014 study revealed.

In that study, researchers measured the participants' cortisol and epinephrine levels, both stress hormones, and asked them to perform certain tasks like answering challenging math problems in their heads.

Those who ate dark chocolate had lower stress hormone levels and reportedly experienced less stress. In addition, the researchers saw the wonderful benefits of eating dark chocolate in people struggling with high blood pressure.

“Dark chocolate has been shown to favorably impact some of the risk factors for atrial fibrillation, such as high blood pressure, body inflammation, and the response of the body to stress,” Dr. Bunch also commented.

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