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Eating dark chocolate could protect the brain from stroke, says doctor

Advert warns to act FAST when you see signs of a stroke

A stroke is a serious and potentially fatal medical emergency that occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off.

In most cases this is caused by a blood clot, however, it can also be due to a blood vessel bursting.

There are a number of factors that can raise your risk of having a stroke.

High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two such factors, which could be linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor diet and a lack of exercise.

But according to one expert, there are foods that can protect you against the risk of stroke.

Doctor Johannes Uys, GP at Broadgate General Practice in London, recommended eating dark chocolate to lower your chances of suffering a stroke.

He explained: “Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that have been shown to improve blood flow and reduce blood pressure, both of which can lower the risk of stroke.

“Flavonoids are antioxidants that protect cells from damage and inflammation.

“Inflammation can cause artery walls to become thick and stiff, increasing the risk of stroke.

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“Flavonoids also help to relax blood vessels, which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.”

However, he warned: “You should be looking for dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa content.

“Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not have the same health benefits.”

What does research say?

One study, published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism in 2010, found that dark chocolate could help protect the brain in the event of a stroke.

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As part of their research a team from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine fed a group of test mice a single dose of epicatechin, a compound found naturally in dark chocolate.

90 minutes later they induced an ischemic stroke (a stroke caused by a clot) by cutting off the blood supply to their brains.

They found that the animals that had preventively ingested the epicatechin suffered significantly less brain damage than the ones that had not been given the compound.

Study lead Sylvain Doré said: “Even a small amount [of epicatechin] may be sufficient.”

But he emphasised that not all dark chocolates are created equally, as some have more bioactive epicatechin than others.

“The epicatechin found in dark chocolate is extremely sensitive to changes in heat and light” he added.

“In the process of making chocolate, you have to make sure you don’t destroy it. Only few chocolates have the active ingredient. The fact that it says ‘dark chocolate’ is not sufficient.”

If you think someone is suffering a stroke you should call 999 immediately.

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  • Posted on June 16, 2023