Sweet! Just in time for Easter, scientists find chocolate cuts risk of stroke
22:28 GMT, 23 March 2013
23:28 GMT, 23 March 2013
Just in time for Easter, it's the news chocolate lovers have dreamt of – official confirmation that their favourite guilty pleasure can be good for you.
New research shows that eating just a single chocolate bar has a direct effect on the brain and may cut the risk of stroke.
Previous research has shown eating dark chocolate in moderation could be good for you. But the latest study, in the journal Neurology, shows for the first time how chocolate affects blood vessels.
Research from Glasgow University shows that eating just a single chocolate bar has a direct effect on the brain and may cut the risk of stroke
Researchers at Glasgow University measured the speed of blood flowing through the biggest artery in the brain while subjects ate chocolate lying down.
They found that the chocolate had an effect on carbon dioxide levels which affected blood vessels, improved blood flow and, in turn, impacted on brain cells.
Professor Matthew Walters, who led the study, told The Mail on Sunday: 'Consumption of a normal chocolate bar was associated with a change in stiffness of the blood vessels.
'Our data is consistent with a direct effect of chocolate on the brain blood vessels.
'It raises the possibility that there is a direct effect of some component of the chocolate on blood vessels. This is plausible because of the flavonoid molecules contained in chocolate.
The study found that the chocolate had an effect on carbon dioxide levels which affected blood vessels, improved blood flow and, in turn, impacted on brain cells
'We think a reduction in stroke risk may be caused by chocolate changing how brain blood vessels behave.'
The beneficial flavonoids, found in the cacao plant and others, are antioxidants that contribute to the prevention of heart disease.
However, chocolate also has a high sugar and fat content which can cause obesity – a definite risk factor for strokes.
Tom Solomon, professor of neurology at Liverpool University, said: 'We have to take the findings with caution.'