Sweet! – Stroke prevention for men

Some good news for our sweet-toothed male readers.  According to a new study published in the journal Neurology, men who eat a moderate amount of chocolate each week have a lower risk of stroke.
Investigators from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden studied 37,103 men aged 49 to 75. They were given a food questionnaire that assessed how often they consumed various foods and drinks.  Researchers then identified stroke cases through a hospital discharge registry. Over the 10 years of study there were 1,995 cases of first stroke.

Men who ate the largest amount of chocolate had a lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not consume any chocolate. Those eating the highest amount of chocolate had a 17% lower risk of stroke compared to those who ate no chocolate.

While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind study to find that chocolate, may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men,” said study author Susanna C. Larsson, PhD.

In a larger analysis of five studies that included 4,260 stroke cases, the risk of stroke for individuals in the highest category of chocolate consumption was 19% lower compared to non-chocolate consumers. For every 2 ounce increase in chocolate consumption per week the risk of stroke decreased by about 14 percent.

The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to 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, it wasn’t just dark chocolate that conferred the benefit.  Although dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health, about 90% of the chocolate consumed during this study was milk chocolate.

While this means that some more guilt can be removed from the pleasure of chocolate eating, we’re not advocating a mass testosterone-fuelled rush to the candy store.  Before you embark on a bob-bon binge, SRxA’s Word on Health warns that the average amount of chocolate consumed in the study was only about two and a half ounces per week – that’s the meager equivalent of one-third of a cup of chocolate chips.

More than that could lead to weight gain, which puts a strain on the entire circulatory system. Obesity also leads to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes – all of which can .increase the risk of stroke.

As always, everything in moderation!

One less guilty pleasure?!?

The 2010 Easter holiday just got better for chocolate lovers.  A study published this week in the European Heart Journal showed that chocolate is good for you.

The ten-year study of chocolate consumption in almost 20,000 people showed that those who ate the most chocolate got the greatest benefit.  German nutritionists found that eating 7.5 grams of dark chocolate every day could reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke by a staggering 39%. Chocolate eating can also lead to lower blood pressure.

As always, there’s a catch – it’s the most expensive chocolate that’s best for you.  Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa produced the best results.

And before you rush out and stock up, you need to do the math.  7.5 grams is approximately 0.26 ounces, which is less than one small square. Eating more than this can result in obesity, which leads to higher blood pressure, which in turn increases the risk of heart attack and stroke!

Still, chocolate is chocolate, right?

Even so, Word on Health wonders whether it will continue to taste as good now that we know it’s good for us.