March 2013 - Eating moderate amounts of chocolate each week may be linked to lower risk of stroke in men, according to a
published in Neurology® journal of the American Academy of Neurology last year.
Author Susanna C. Larsson, PhD, at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden said:
"While other studies have looked at how chocolate may help cardiovascular health, this is the first of its kind study to find that
chocolate, may be beneficial for reducing stroke in men."
37,103 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 completed a food questionnaire to assess their consumption of various foods and
drinks including chocolate. The researchers also identified 1,995 first stroke cases through a 10-year hospital discharge registry.
The men who ate the largest amount of chocolate - about 63 grams - had a 17% lower risk of stroke
compared to those who did not consume any chocolate.
A larger analysis of five studies including a total of 4,260 stroke cases showed a 19% reduction in the risk of stroke for individuals
in the highest category of chocolate
consumption compared to those who did not consume chocolate.
Susanna Larsson concluded:
"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. It's also possible that
flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure..
"Interestingly, dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but about 90 percent of the chocolate
intake in Sweden, including what was consumed during our study, is milk chocolate."
Depression And Chocolate Consumption
People eat more chocolate when symptoms of depression increase, according to
researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. The paper, authored by
Beatrice Golomb, Sabrina Koperski and Natalie Rose appeared in the April 26 209 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
According to Beatrice Golomb:
"Our study confirms long-held suspicions that eating chocolate is something that people do when
they are feeling down. Because it was a cross sectional study, meaning a slice in time, it did not tell us whether
the chocolate decreased or intensified the depression."
The researchers looked at the relationship between chocolate consumption and mood in their study
of about 1,000 adult subjects who were not taking antidepressant medications. The subjects had no known cardiovascular
disease or diabetes. Participants' mood was measured using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and they were
asked questions about how much chocolate they ate in a
Golomb and her colleagues found (for both men and women) that:
- Subjects with higher depression scores consumed almost 12 servings of
chocolate per month
- People with lesser depression scores averaged about eight servings of chocolate per month, and
- Subjects with no depression had five servings per month
The researchers did not distinguish between dark and milk chocolate. They classified a medium
serving of chocolate as one ounce - slightly less than an average bar of chocolate.
Beatrice Golomb commented:
"The findings did not appear to be explained by a general increase in caffeine, fat, carbohydrate or
energy intake, suggesting that our findings are specific to chocolate."
The researchers found no difference in the consumption
of other antioxidant-rich foods, such as fish, coffee, fruits and vegetables between tsubjects with depression and those
Beatrice Golomb added that the basis of this association, as well as the role of
chocolate in depression, as cause or cure, needs further investigation.
Chocolate May Not Be Addictive
A study by Professor Peter Rogers of Bristol University published in 2007 argues that, while
people readily admit to being "chocoholics", chocolate is not truly addictive and there is an alternative explanation
for this ubiquitous craving.
The study questions the common belief that psychoactive mood-enhancing compounds such as serotonin,
tryptophan, phenylethylamine, tyramine and cannabinoids present in chocolate explain its appeal, pointing out that
many exist in higher concentrations in other foods.
Milk chocolate and chocolate-covered confectionery are craved more than dark chocolate but contain
less cocoa solids and a lower concentration of potentially psychoactive compounds. The study concludes that a liking
for chocolate, and its effects on mood, is far more likely to be due to the nutritional and sensory impact of its
principal constituents, sugar and fat.
Peter Rogers explained:
"A more compelling explanation lies in our ambivalent attitudes towards chocolate; it is highly
desired but should be eaten with restraint (nice but naughty). Our unfulfilled desire to eat chocolate, resulting
from restraint, is thus experienced as craving, which in turn is attributed to 'addiction'."