(HealthDay News) – In men, moderate chocolate consumption on a regular basis may lower the risk of any type of stroke by about 17–19%.

Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 37,103 men, aged 45–79 years, to determine whether there is an association between chocolate consumption and stroke risk. Additionally, the authors conducted a meta-analysis of five studies.

After more than 10 years of follow-up, 1,511 cerebral infarctions, 321 hemorrhagic strokes, and 163 unspecified strokes were reported. The researchers found that men who had the highest chocolate consumption (median 62.9 g/week) had a 17% lower risk of stroke (relative risk, 0.83; 95% confidence interval, 0.70–0.99) compared with those who did not eat any chocolate, with no difference noted based on type of stroke. This amounted to 12 fewer strokes per 100,000 person-years. The meta-analysis of five studies involving 4,260 stroke cases found a similar 19% risk reduction.

“The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate,” Larsson said in a statement. “Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.”

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