Eating at least two chocolate bars per week reduces women’s risk of stroke by 20% according to a survey of more than 33,000 women in Sweden.
Flavonoids, antioxidants found within cocoa (the levels of which are much higher in dark chocolate), have been shown to reduce high blood pressure and suppress bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein), and are also thought to improve insulin resistance.
The study, based on the Swedish Mammography Cohort, asked adult females to carry out a self-administered food questionnaire to assess their chocolate intake over a twelve month period. During the follow-up period over just over a decade, of the 1549 strokes the women who ate the most chocolate had the lowest risk of stroke by about 20%. Whilst this suggests that high chocolate consumption will reduce risk of heart disease it is important not to eat too much chocolate, especially milk chocolate, due to the high sugar, fat and caffeine content. The researchers pointed out that the study cannot conclusively prove that chocolate lowers the risk of stroke and that over-consumption of chocolate, especially milk chocolate, can be counterproductive.