Chocolate Intake Tied to Lower Stroke Risk

August 30, 2012

Results of a 10-year study on chocolate intake in Swedish men.

Published in the journal Neurology, a new study and meta-analysis are linking chocolate intake to lower stroke risk. The association presumably has more to due with cocoa flavanols present in chocolate than chocolate itself.

More and more, published studies are linking cocoa flavanols to a variety of potential health benefits-most notably, heart health and brain health. The central mechanism by which cocoa flavanols may improve heart health seems to be regulation of nitric oxide, which is an important factor in healthy blood circulation. Because cocoa flavanols can diminish during chocolate manufacturing, specialty cocoa ingredient suppliers are investing in ingredients that are standardized to promise high levels of these compounds.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm) and the National Institute of Health and Welfare (Helsinki, Finland) recruited more than 37,000 Swedish men to complete food frequency questionnaires about their chocolate intake and be monitored for chocolate intake and stroke incident over a 10-year period. Throughout that time, 1995 stroke events occurred.

Compared to subjects who consumed the lowest daily amount of chocolate (a median of 0 g/week) those who consumed the highest daily amount of chocolate (a median of 62.9 g/week) throughout the study demonstrated a 17% reduced risk of stroke.

The association drawn between chocolate and stroke risk in this population study closely resembles what the researchers found in their own meta-analysis on five previously published clinical trials: a 19% reduced risk of stroke with high chocolate consumption compared to low chocolate consumption.