Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Can Chomping on Chocolate Really Cut Stroke Risk in Women?

Who doesn't love a great piece of chocolate? Sure, there do exist people out there who aren't fans of the "food of the gods", but for most, chocolate is synonymous with luxury, indulgence and sinful deliciousness. Chocolate is often viewed that way and is enjoyed as a once-in-a-while treat, often saved for special occasions or celebrations. Too much of the rich stuff and you'll get more than you bargained for along your waistline! But that's all right - all you really need is just a little to get a big impact in more ways than just taste.

Just because chocolate should be enjoyed in moderation doesn't mean it's inherently bad for you. In fact, new research suggests that a little bit of chocolate in moderation as part of a healthy diet might help women significantly cut their stroke risks! Now that's something worth celebrating!

According to Swedish scientists, women who enjoy chocolate more often as part of a balanced, calorie-appropriate diet may be able to reduce their risk of having a stroke by an estimated 20%. The scientists thank chocolate's flavinoids (antioxidants) for the demonstrated health benefits, because they can help prevent the oxidation of LDL (bad cholesterol) which is a key player in the cascade of events that leads to cardiac events including strokes. But obviously, chocolate isn't the only food that contains health-boosting antioxidants.

On that note, a word of warning is necessary, before you go ahead and start chomping down on extra bites of chocolate each day. One of the key points about the results of this study were that the women who ate the chocolate did so in the context of a diet that was appropriately balanced and provided them with the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight. That might mean they skipped out on other nutritious foods that also have antioxidants (possibly even more than chocolate) in addition to other health benefits, for example, blueberries or broccoli.

In the end, a trade-off has to occur if you want to enjoy treats (however medicinal they might be) like chocolate within your every day diet. If chocolate is what you're feeling like on a certain day, make up the nutritional difference the rest of the week through healthy eating. Ultimately, maintaining a healthy weight is more important than squeezing in extra antioxidants at the expense of other nutrients and your waistline!