Need another reason to eat chocolate?
Swedish scientists this week have suggested that women who have a couple of small chocolate bars every week were 20 percent less prone to debilitating strokes than those who eat none. “Even consuming a relatively small amount of chocolate had quite a large impact on stroke risk,” said Susanna Larsson, from Sweden’s National Institute of Environmental Medicine in Stockholm.
Larsson was responsible for the large investigation that found chocolate reduced the risk of strokes caused by bleeds in the brain (hemorrhagic strokes) and strokes caused by a cutoff of blood flow through the brain (ischemic strokes). She states that the benefits appeared proportional to the amount of chocolate in the women’s diets. Subjects who ate about two bars (approximately 2.33 ounces) of antioxidant-rich chocolate every week had “significantly reduced risk of stroke,” compared with those who ate no chocolate, “suggesting that higher intakes are necessary for a potentially protective effect.”
Past studies have found that chocolate reduces blood pressure, as well as the risk of cardiovascular disease. These benefits apply directly to stroke protection because hypertension is a major contributor to stroke. Chocolate has also been found to improve the way blood vessels function and help the body use insulin to break down sugar to fuel the muscles and brain. In late August, researchers announced at the European Society of Cardiology 2011 that a meta-analysis of previous studies found people who ate the most chocolate had a 37 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least chocolate. Those findings appeared in the British Medical Journal.
There is a caveat – European chocolate, including the Swedish milk chocolate used in Larsson’s study, contains a higher concentration of antioxidant-rich cocoa solids (about 30 percent) than American chocolate. Larsson suggested that Americans might want to stick with dark chocolate, but noted that U.S. chocolate need only contain 15 percent cocoa to be called sweet dark chocolate.
Before you order massive amounts of chocolate from overseas, there is a local solution. Delysia Chocolatier’s products are all made with European chocolate and thus have higher concentrations of antioxidant-rich cocoa solids, as well as lower levels of sugar than American-based chocolate products. Here is the breakdown for Delysia Chocolatier’s chocolate:
- Our Milk Chocolate contains 45 percent cocoa solids.
- Our Dark Chocolate contains 60 percent cocoa solids.
- Our Bittersweet Chocolate contains 75 percent solids.
Shop locally on Delysia Chocolatier’s Online Shop.
The findings from Larsson’s research, released yesterday, will appear in the Oct. 18 issue of the