Sweet stroke prevention
There are a few things I make sure I'm always stocked up on -- good beer, good pasta, and good dark chocolate. The darker, the better.
We've already known about a few health benefits of eating a few bites of dark chocolate a day, and now there's one more to add to the list.
Harvard researchers have found that eating small amounts of cocoa each day (two or three squares of dark chocolate) could help to prevent hemorrhagic stroke by an impressive 52%.
The findings come from a study of 4,369 middle-aged French women who kept detailed diaries of all the foods they ate every day for 12 years. The researchers found that women who ate 9 grams or more of dark chocolate each day had the highest boost in hemorrhagic stroke prevention.
The results are somewhat disappointing, though. There are two types of stroke -- ischemic (when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked) and hemorrhagic (when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and bleeds into the brain).
For some reason, the regular consumption of cocoa doesn't seem to do anything to prevent ischemic stroke, which is unfortunately the more common of the two.
Researchers think this might have something to do with the way chocolate helps prevent hemorrhagic strokes, namely that rich cocoa has an effect on blood pressure and could help improve the flexibility of blood vessels.
In general, researchers believe chocolate's boost to heart health comes from the flavonoids it contains -- they say these substances help protect against risk factors like blood pressure and blood clotting.
Personally, I don't really need any more reasons to keep eating chocolate (my love for it is reason enough!), but if you're looking for an excuse to support your "guilty" pleasure, look no further! Of course, as with anything, moderation is key -- rather than eating a whole chocolate bar a day, take your time and savor a couple of squares of the good stuff.