Stockholm, Sweden—With Halloween and candy season right around the corner, for once we might be encouraging men to indulge. A recent study in Neurology, by Susanna C. Larsson with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, shows that men who consume more chocolate may have lower risks of stroke.

The study followed 37,103 Swedish men for a period of 10 years. During this time the men were given food-frequency questionnaires to determine how much and how often they were consuming chocolate. Researchers found that there were 1,995 incidences of stroke throughout the duration of the study.

Researchers conclude that the men who eat the most chocolate per week, about one-third of a cup (63 grams), have a lower risk of having a stroke when compared to men who did not eat this treat. In fact, the risk was lowered about 17%. Similar research analyzed the results from 5 studies involving 4,260 incidences of stroke. In this case, the highest consumers of chocolate had a 19% decrease in risk of stroke than non-chocolate eaters. It was found that for about every quarter cup (50 grams) of chocolate a man added to his diet each week, his risk was reduced by about 14%.

For many years dark chocolate has been associated with a healthy heart, but what about its counterpart milk chocolate? Larsson said, “About 90% of the chocolate intake in Sweden, including what was consumed during our study, is milk chocolate.” The health benefits of these chocolates may be traced back to the presence of flavonoids. Flavonoids are the substances in plants that often give it color, but they are found to work as antioxidants and assist with anti-clotting and anti-inflammation in the body.

According to this research, a man with a sweet tooth may actually be reducing his chance of stroke by treating himself to a chocolate bar this Halloween season.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2012 (online 9/10/12)