Why your arteries love chocolate
November 03, 2012
Volume 2 | Issue 86
Dark chocolate has been in the news a lot lately. One research group made news recently when they said that the countries that eat the most chocolate have the most Nobel Prize winners. While their research is fascinating, even entertaining, it’s not as compelling as some other research out of Sweden. The Swedes recently found that your arteries are a big fan of chocolate – and it doesn’t have to be dark chocolate.
We’ve seen a lot of studies showing how the flavonoids in chocolate can benefit your heart. But this new research shows that this benefit goes well beyond your heart into your arteries. The protective ability of dark chocolate is so powerful it can prevent strokes in men.
As you may know, there’s a strong connection between the health of your arteries and your stroke risk. This new research, conducted at the Karolinska Institute and published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, shows that chocolate helps keep your arteries healthy.
The researchers discovered the powers of this tasty treat by following 37,103 Swedish men between the ages of 49 and 75. They gave each participant a questionnaire that asked how much and how often they ate chocolate. Then they looked at the number of strokes that occurred in the participants over the next 10 years.
Here’s what they found: The men who ate the most chocolate every day (approximately one-third of a cup of dark chocolate chips) had a 17% lower risk of stroke.
Study author Susanna C. Larsson, PhD said this is the first study to connect chocolate consumption to a reduced stroke risk. “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.”
What’s amazing about this study is that it’s the first to show that the type of chocolate isn’t as important as the amount of chocolate. About 90% of the chocolate eaten in Sweden is milk chocolate, not dark chocolate. Milk chocolate doesn’t have as much cocoa in it as dark chocolate does. So it’s surprising that the chocolate had such a profound impact.
Most studies have shown that the higher the cocoa content, the better the health benefits. Chocolate products with higher cocoa content typically don’t have as much sugar, but they still have a lot. So if you’re diabetic or at risk for diabetes, you need to keep your chocolate consumption in low moderation.
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Regardless of the chocolate you eat, though, it’s now clear you can greatly reduce your stroke risk by eating some every day. And it looks like it might even lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. What a treat!
Your Insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.