Chocolate-loving ladies, you are in luck. New research suggests that eating about two chocolate bars a week could help reduce your risk of stroke.
Announced October 10, the new Swedish study supports previous research in men and women.
"The protection started at more than 45 grams [about 1.5 ounces] a week," said researcher Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, in a statement.
In the study, the group eating the most chocolate (about 2.3 ounces a week) got the most benefit, reducing stroke risks by 20 percent, stated the researchers.
The research is publishedin the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
While prior research has discovered a link between eating chocolate and reduced stroke risk, the study discovered that those subjects who ate the most chocolate were protected a bit more from strokes caused by hemorrhage than strokes caused by obstruction such as blood clots, although the researchers aren't exactly sure why.
Earlier research has established a link between cocoa-based confections and lowered blood pressure or improvement in blood flow, often attributed to antioxidants. One study announced this summer found that in 100,000 patients, with and without heart disease, those who ate the most chocolate had a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease.
But don't get too excited. The findings come with an important caveat: the healthful molecules are found in the bitter cacao, not in the sugar and fat with which they are routinely combined. So to gain healthful benefits from chocolate, opt for good quality dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa, Larsson noted.