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Reduced risk of stroke for chocoholics this Easter

With Easter just a few days away, The Stroke Association has good news for all chocolate lovers - a few squares of dark chocolate can help to reduce the risk of stroke.

People in the UK are the biggest chocoholics in Europe, munching through an average 10 kilos per year - or 25% of all the chocolate eaten across Europe. So, it is welcome news that some of it is may be doing us some good!

Dark chocolate contains a large amount of cocoa which is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are natural powerful antioxidants and these reduce harmful chemicals in the blood such as free radicals which speed up the process of the hardening of the arteries. Flavonoids slow the processing of "bad" cholesterol into material that clogs the arteries and at the same time makes blood platelets less likely to clump and cause clots. Dark chocolate has also been found to increase levels of good cholesterol and decrease blood pressure.

Joe Korner of The Stroke Association commented: "Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the UK and it is vital that we do all we can to help reduce the risk of a stroke. Eating a few squares of dark chocolate as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle is something which can be enjoyed without the guilt! It is important to remember however that milk chocolate does not have the same effect as it contains less cocoa and so less flavonoids and the milk in the chocolate reduces the antioxidant effect of any flavanoids that are present. Flavonoids can also be found in tea, red wine, fruit and some vegetables"
Other top tips to help reduce your risk of having a stroke include:

  • Getting your blood pressure checked. High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke and it can often be symptom less, so make you have yours checked regularly.
  • Stopping smoking. This can cut your risk of stroke in half. Smoking causes the arteries to fur up and makes your blood more likely to clot. These increase your risk of a stroke.
  • Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure. Binge drinking (drinking more than six units in six hours) is particularly dangerous as it can cause blood pressure to soar.
  • Healthy eating is essential for a healthy bloodstream. Salt raises blood pressure. Don't add salt to your food and avoid processed foods which contain a lot of salt.
  • Regular physical activity helps to lower blood pressure, creates a healthy balance of blood fats and improves your body's ability to handle insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas and controls the amount of sugar in the blood by moving it into the cells, where it can be used by the body for energy.