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Want to avoid stroke? Eat chocolates!

There is no feeling to beat falling in love. Wrong. Eating chocolates produces the same feeling in the brain. Plus, now it appears, it protects your heart and brain, from attacks and strokes! Wow. So, go ahead and dig into a juicy bar of rich dark chocolate with zero guilt.

For long, scientists (and most chocolate lovers) have known that it is intensely pleasurable to eat chocolates. Other than the taste, scientists have de-romanticized our affair with the sweet meat by proving that this ultimate comfort food produces the same chemical in the brain as love.

If that was not good enough, they have now shown in a recent study that noshing on up to two bars a day actually provides us protection from heart disease and stroke. For some time now the health benefits of dark chocolates have been evident; the recent study shows that the same holds true for milk chocolates as well. Chocolates are a source of precious nutrients that reduce the risk of strokes and heart problems.

Earlier studies had shown that chocolates lower cholesterol, reduce memory loss and stress, prevent diabetes and shield the skin from the harmful effects of sunrays. To check whether chocolates were indeed beneficial to the heart, researchers at the University of Aberdeen studied the snacking habits of 21,000 people over 12 years.

This is what they found: consuming as much as 100 grams of chocolate daily reduced the risk of people dying from heart disease by 25 per cent. Similarly, the probability of being hit by a stroke too fell by 23 per cent.

According to Professor Phyo Myint, at the Aberdeen University the weight of evidence gathered thus far indicates that a higher intake of chocolate is related to a reduced risk of cardiovascular events. “Flavonoids and other compounds like calcium and fatty acids, which constitute milk, may hold the key to this association.” Also conducted was a review of accessible documentary evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular conditions covering 158,000 people. In every single case the researchers found that people who regularly consumed chocolate had a significantly lower risk of stroke and heart disease.

Even sweeter is the finding that people who gorged on chocolate were slimmer, exercised more often and had lower blood pressure. However the authors caution that although evidence clearly links chocolate consumption with lower risk of future cardiovascular events, it’s not a prescription for over indulgence for, as Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, says: “Although these studies indicate that there could be some health benefits from having chocolate, chocolate is also implicated with weight gain, which is unquestionably adverse for cardiovascular health.”

In other words, the latest findings are no prescription for gorging on chocolates (meaning it’s still not as good as fresh fruit, leafy greens and whole grains). But two bars of your favourite chocolate may do no harm at all and in fact help you keep strokes and heart problems at bay.

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