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Stroke prevention can now be added to Cocoa’s impressive resume of health benefits that include a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. And if you have suffered a stroke, regularly indulging in Cocoa or Cocoa rich chocolate before the stroke may lower your risk of dying.
The good news centers around two new studies. The first found that 44,489 people who ate one serving of Cocoa Flavanol rich chocolate each week lowered their risk of having a stroke by 22 % as opposed to people who didn't eat chocolate. A second study found that 1,169 people who ate 50 grams of Cocoa rich chocolate each week slashed their risk of dying following a stroke by 46 % when compared to those who ate no chocolate according to study author Sarah Sahib, BScCA, with McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
Cocoa rich chocolate's protective benefits are due to Cocoa’s high amounts of compounds called Flavan-3-Ols which increase blood flow to the heart and brain. "More and more research is showing that [eating chocolate] is really more beneficial than we ever imagined," said Katherine Tallmadge a registered dietician. Still, there's a major downside to most chocolate, so don't give into the temptation to gorge. "Eating too much chocolate can make you fat as chocolate also contains saturated fats," Dr. Saposnik warned in the London Telegraph. (don’t forget the added sugars; Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.)
The results of a Canadian analysis scheduled for presentation at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting to be held in Toronto April 10 to April 17, 2010 indicate an association between consuming chocolate and a lower risk of stroke and reduced stroke mortality. Chocolate contains cocoa flavonoids to which the lower risk of cardiovascular disease observed among individuals who include chocolate in their diet has been attributed.
Dr Sahib concluded that “Higher flavonoid intake from chocolate sources may be associated with lower incident risk of stroke and stroke-related mortality.”
"More research is needed to determine whether chocolate truly lowers stroke risk, or whether healthier people are simply more likely to eat chocolate than others," she noted.