For one thing, it's possible that some factor other than chocolate could be helping lower the risk of stroke. Those who eat more chocolate could be wealthier and have better access to health care, for instance, or go to the gym more often.
Saposnik said more studies will help clarify the association between chocolate and stroke risk.
For now, said registered dietitian Katie Clark, "caution should be taken not to promote chocolate as a health food," even though it's fine in moderation.
Chocolate is a major source of saturated fat, which raises bad cholesterol and boosts heart disease risk, said Clark, an assistant clinical professor at the University of California at San Francisco.
But Keith-Thomas Ayoob, an associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City who studies nutrition, said chocolate does have its benefits. "Several studies indicate that even a little chocolate can help reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow through the arteries. Both are good for heart health," he said. "It's nice to know that chocolate isn't bad for you, assuming you eat modest amounts and don't become overweight by overeating it."
The National Stroke Association has more on stroke.
SOURCES: Gustavo Saposnik, M.D., M.Sc., director, Stroke Research Unit, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto; Katie Clark, M.P.H., R.D., assistant clinical professor, University of California at San Francisco; Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., F.A.D.A., associate clinical professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Feb. 11, 2010, American Academy of Neurology, news release
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