Swedish study is the first of its kind in examining chocolates influence on stroke
Past research has revealed that dark chocolate is good for the heart but this is the first study that looks at how chocolate can reduce stroke risk in men.
Dr. Susanna Larsson, PhD, assistant professor, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden and first author of the study stated in a media release “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.”
For this study 37,103 Swedish men, ages 49 to 75 participated in this study. The men were given a food questionnaire that evaluated how frequently they consumed various foods and drinks along with how much chocolate they consumed. Researchers then determined stroke cases through the Swedish Hospital Discharge Registry and found 1,195 cases of first stroke over a span of ten years.
The findings had revealed the men who consumed the largest amounts of chocolate (around one-third cup of chocolate chips) each week had a lower risk for stroke in comparison to men who did not consume chocolate. Those men who consumed the highest amounts of chocolate had lower risk of stroke by 17% or 12 fewer strokes per 100,000 person-years in comparison to those who did not consume chocolate. Person-years is the total amount of years each participant was observed.
In the second half of the study researchers conducted an analysis of five larger studies which included 4,260 stroke cases. The risk of stroke in the highest category of chocolate consumption revealed a 19% lower risk for stroke compared to those who did not consume chocolate. For each increase of chocolate consumption of around one-quarter cup of chocolate chips had a 14% decrease for risk of stroke.
“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 Dr. Larsson.
Dr. Larrson added “Interestingly, dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but about 90 percent of the chocolate intake in Sweden, including what was consumed during our study, is milk chocolate.”
This study is published in the August 29, 2012, online issue of Neurology®.
Can chocolate really lower your stroke risk? Two other studies conducted over two years ago seem to agree with this current study.
An analysis involving a review of three studies conducted by Sarah Sahib, BScCA, with McMaster University in collaboration with Dr. Gustavo Saposnik is a Clinician Scientist at the University of Toronto and Director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto, where the study had been conducted.
The first study revealed that 44,489 people who had consumed one serving of chocolate each week had a 22% lower risk for stroke in comparison to those who did not consume chocolate.
The second study revealed that 1,169 people who had consumed on serving of chocolate each week had a 22% lower risk for stroke in comparison to those who did not consume chocolate.
The third study did not find a link between chocolate and risk for stroke or death.
The analysis was released February 11th, 2010, and presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd Annual Meeting.