WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Eating moderate amounts of chocolate might reduce a man's risk of stroke in addition to its other reported benefits, a new Swedish study finds.
Researchers followed more than 37,000 men for more than 10 years, and found that those who ate the most chocolate had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than those who never ate chocolate.
Flavonoids in chocolate have previously been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease and better mental performance. It's thought they may protect against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory factors, or by reducing cholesterol.
But neurologists aren't sending patients to the candy store based on this new report.
"You have to be very careful with these types of observational studies," said Dr. Richard Libman, vice chair of neurology at the Cushing Neuroscience Institute in Manhasset, N.Y.
While the research shows an association between chocolate consumption and stroke reduction, it does not show cause and effect. "There is no way to take from this study that chocolate causes a lower risk of stroke," Libman said.
The only way to prove whether or not chocolate reduces stroke risk is to do a randomized trial where some eat chocolate and others don't, he said. They would have to be followed for many years to see if chocolate made a difference, he added.
And eating too much chocolate can only add to the U.S. obesity epidemic and the health problems that go along with it, Libman noted.
For the report, published in the Aug. 29 online edition of Neurology, a team led by Susanna Larsson, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, questioned men aged 49 to 75 about their diet and specifically how much chocolate they ate.
>Over the decade of follow-up, almost 2,000 men had a first stroke, they found. The risk was lower among those
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