A sudden loss of blood and oxygen to your brain can cause stroke. Stroke is often referred to as a cerebral vascular accident (CVA). A stroke can attack your brain and impair its optimum functioning and thus, give rise to several other adverse health effects. A severe attack can lead to permanent paralysis or even cause death. There are a lot of documented lifestyle modifications that have considerably lowered the risk of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, some of which includes vitamin D optimization, inclusion of strong antioxidants such as resveratrol and consumption of fish oil supplementation. However, cocoa, when consumed in small amount, few times a week, can also be included to the list since, some research indicates cocoa may reduce risk of stroke.
Cocoa is obtained from Theobroma cacao’s beans, which is a native South American tree. Many ancient cultures have documented various applications pertaining to the use of cacao, which includes the prevention or treatment of infection, heart palpitations, angina, inflammation and stroke. Numerous studies in the past decade have revealed that cocoa is so healthy that it helps to reduce blood pressure, minimizes the accumulation of plaque that leads to atherosclerosis and cuts down the risk of stroke. The bean is highly beneficial because it contains the same amount of anti-oxidants found in vegetables and fruits.
A number of studies have made known that eating cocoa in the form of chocolate can have a positive influence on your health owing to its anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties. A study carried out by Harvard University comprising of 4,369 middle-aged women showed that women who consumed more than nine grams of chocolate on a daily basis had almost cut down the risk of haemorrhagic stroke by half, as compared to the women who ate minimal or no chocolate. The chocolate used in this study was usually dark chocolate. The study confirmed that people who consume chocolates or cocoa based beverages or any other cocoa-based products were 19% less likely to suffer from a stroke than the ones who do not consume it. Moreover, as per the study, if you increase your consumption of cocoa to around 50 grams each week, the risks associated with stroke will naturally decrease by about 14%.
Dr. Martin Lajous, the lead researcher accredited the benefits to cocoa’s flavonoids. Flavonoids are compounds that have positive effects on the blood vessel functions, according to study. Flavonoids offer protection against stroke through it anti-oxidant, anti-platelet and anti-clotting properties. The flavonoids present in cocoa can help to prevent blood clotting and aid to expand the blood vessels by ensuring proper flow of blood to your brain. Flavonoids also reduce the concentration of LDL, that is, bad cholesterol in the bloodstream. The oxidation of LDL also helps to keep stroke at bay.
Overall, caution is recommended to carefully keep a watch over the cocoa content of the product you purchase. If you wish to boost your intake of flavonoid then you will have to choose the product that has minimum 40-50% cocoa content with minimal added sugar. In terms of dark chocolate, you will be able to enjoy the taste along with the health benefits it offers however, you must keep a track of your nutrition and calories while consuming cocoa in the form of chocolates. The health benefits of cocoa are many but; these benefits can be derived only if you consume it in moderate and right proportions.
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