Study: Chocolate May Help Protect Women from Strokes

According to a study by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, women who eat chocolate may be less likely to have a stroke.

Susanna Larsson, one of three researchers, told AFP: “We followed 33,000 women over the course of 10 years, and we found that those who ate most chocolate had a much lower risk, 20 percent lower, of suffering a stroke."

The study began in 1997 when the researchers asked 33,372 women in Sweden between the ages of 49 and 83 to fill out a questionnaire on their eating habits. The women were asked to keep a record on how often they, on average, had eaten chocolate and 95 other foods during the previous year.

After taking into account all the known risk factors for stroke, researchers say that the women who ate the least chocolate, between 0.3 ounces a week and none, were the ones who suffered most strokes, but women who ate the most chocolate, an average of 2.3 ounces per week, were the least likely to suffer a stroke.

While the women were not asked to distinguish between light and dark chocolate, Larsson points out that in the 1990s, about 90 percent of all chocolate eaten in Sweden was milk chocolate.

“If we had been able to separate light and dark chocolate we think that the connection would have been clearer with dark, since it’s cocoa that is the protective substance. We weren’t really surprised, because our hypothesis was that chocolate would help protect against strokes,” Larsson said.

Larsson pointed out that other studies have shown that antioxidants in chocolate “can reduce oxidation of the bad (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol" and that “chocolate reduces blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a high risk factor.”

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