Love the men in your life? Consider buying them a box of chocolate bonbons as a means to lower their risk of stroke.
In a new study out of Sweden published this week, researchers found that eating a moderate amount of chocolate every week was associated with a reduced rate of stroke incidents.
Published in the journal Neurology, the study asked 37,103 Swedish men ages 49 to 75 to fill out a food questionnaire assessing their consumption of food and drink. Those who ate the largest amount of chocolate -- equal to about one-third of a cup of chocolate chips or 63 g a week -- had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who consumed no chocolate.
"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate," explained study author Susanna C. Larsson of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
"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."
In a separate review of five studies, the researchers found that those who consumed the most chocolate also lowered their risk of stroke by 19 percent compared to non-chocolate consumers.
Another interesting finding was that though dark chocolate is believed to contain more nutritional value and heart benefits, 90 percent of the men's chocolate intake in was milk chocolate.
The latest research builds on a slew of other studies which have linked chocolate to cardiovascular health. A 2011 study published in the British Medical Journal, for instance, found that high levels of chocolate consumption reduced the risk of stroke by as much as one-third.
Another US study published earlier this year also found that people who eat chocolate regularly are actually thinner than those who don't.
Other foods that are high in flavonoids and antioxidants include berries, dark beans like black and kidney and red vegetables.