For a number of years, dark chocolate and cocoa have been associated with an improvement in cardiovascular health. A recent study involving more than 35,000 men found a correlation between eating chocolate and the reduced risk of stroke.
Summary of Recent Research Findings
Published in the journal Neurology, the research reports that after studying the chocolate intake of 37,000 men between the ages of 45 and 79 years of age, that a direct relationship was noted between the men who had the highest amount of chocolate experienced the fewest cerebrovascular accidents, stroke.
Data was taken on the participants eating habits at the beginning of the study, including how much chocolate they consumed. During the 10 years of follow-up detailing the medical conditions of the men, researchers concluded that consuming chocolate in moderate amounts may decrease the risk of incurring a stroke.
Statistics for American Male Stroke Prevalence
Affecting both men and women with more frequency as older ages are obtained, information from the American Heart Association's Circulation indicates that in men aged 40 to 59, 1.6 percent of them will have a stroke. In men ages 60 to 79, the percentage raises to 7.2 percent; for men aged 80 and over, stroke prevalence is 14.5 percent.
Baby boomer men and their senior counterparts may be particularly interested in the information from the chocolate intake study with the potential to avert the serious health consequences of stroke.
Understanding the Role of Chocolate in Health
Study co-author Susanna C. Larsson, Ph.D., explained, "The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate. Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties." Larsson also theorized that bad cholesterol and blood pressure may be positively affected by the flavonoids, health issues that are known risk factors for stroke.
An earlier research study, published in March 2006, also cites the benefits of flavonoids in cocoa and chocolate, noting the anti-inflammatory, vasodilation, and antioxidant effects of these substances. Also noted is that the flavonoids found in chocolate that produce these benefits may also be found in other foods such as sweet cherries, Ceylon tea, apples, purple grapes and red wine. Here the researchers suggest a diet that is rich in known flavonoid-containing foods and beverages, consuming each in moderation.
A direct correlation between chocolate consumption and stroke prevention will require more research before such a definitive conclusion can be reached scientifically. In the meanwhile, there exists enough other evidence of the health benefits of chocolate that baby boomers -- and men of all ages -- can eat their favorite chocolate product with less guilt.
Smack dab in the middle of the baby boomer generation, L.L. Woodard is a proud resident of "The Red Man" state. With what he hopes is an everyman's view of life's concerns both in his state and throughout the nation, Woodard presents facts and opinions based on common-sense solutions.