Now that’s what I call a health headline! Usually we are urged to give up what we love and eat things we may loathe, but let’s have a cheer for some Swedish researchers who have contributed the latest glad tidings.
I confess that any news bulletin that tells me that chocolate is a good thing does tend to catch my eye and indeed there are now a growing number of studies which show that chocolate is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Nor was this a small scale study as the researchers at Karolinska Institute had data on 33,000 women between the ages of 49 and 83 over a 10-year period.
Even better news – for chocoholics and chocolate manufacturers alike – is that according to the study which was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology the scientists found that women who ate the most chocolate, had a 20 percent reduction in their stroke risk.
Now this is where the scientists and I part company because they feel that the ‘most’ was two bars a week. Now chocolate consumption does have its down side: high fat and sugar intake, increase in cholesterol and weight gain – though spots have been disproved thank goodness. Two bars a week though is fairly low I would have thought, so if you get a 10% reduction in risk per bar would you get a 30% reduction with three bars? Just asking.
It is of course the antioxidant activity of the flavonoids found in cocoa that do the good work. They are able to slow down the harmful oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) which is what your doctor – or cardiologist – refers to as bad cholesterol. It is the oxidation of LDL that leads to the plaque formation in the arteries that causes cardiovascular disease. By slowing down, or preventing, this process you reduce your risk of having a stroke.
If you stick to dark (plain) chocolate then you get even more health benefits as it contains more cocoa (and therefore more antioxidants) and less sugar. Previous studies have shown it can lower blood pressure and insulin resistance, as well as help prevent the formation of blood clots.
I feel some research coming on into the chocolate bar with the highest antioxidant benefit and the best taste – and preferably organic so it will be even healthier!