Stroke: CDC outlines the main signs and how to respond
A stroke describes a serious life-threatening condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
From high blood pressure to high cholesterol, various health problems can lay the dangerous groundwork for this medical emergency.
Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices can help disrupt these harmful processes, with dark chocolate representing a tasty weapon you can add to your arsenal of protection.
Dr Sunni Patel, from Dish Dash Deets, told Express.co.uk that while more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between dark chocolate and stroke risk, the treat could reduce your likelihood of the medical emergency in the following ways.
1. Antioxidant content
Packed with antioxidants like flavonoids and polyphenols, the food could help protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
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And oxidative stress is linked to various cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, the doctor explained.
2. Blood pressure regulation
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for strokes, so it’s crucial to keep your reading in check.
Fortunately, the antioxidants in dark chocolate can improve the elasticity of blood vessels, potentially leading to better blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Dr Patel said: “A study evaluating 15 trials demonstrated a small but significant blood pressure-reducing effect of flavanol-rich cocoa products: systolic blood pressure of around 3.2mmHg on average and diastolic blood pressure of average 2.0mmHg reduction.”
3. Improved endothelial function
Endothelial cells line the inside of your blood vessels and play a crucial role in maintaining vessel health.
Interestingly, the sweet snack has been associated with improved endothelial function, which can enhance blood vessel dilation, blood flow, and overall cardiovascular health, the doctor explained.
4. Blood flow enhancement
Another way how dark chocolate can boost your cardiovascular health is by enhancing your blood flow to the brain.
The doctor said this could potentially reduce your risk of ischaemic stroke, where a blood clot blocks an artery supplying blood to the brain.
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5. Cholesterol management
Similarly to high blood pressure, high cholesterol is another precursor of strokes.
However, research suggests that consuming the cocoa-rich food might have a positive impact on cholesterol levels by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol.
6. Anti-inflammatory effects
Chronic inflammation can lay the foundation for various cardiovascular diseases, including strokes.
Fortunately, the antioxidants in dark chocolate offer anti-inflammatory properties, consequently reducing your risk.
While the sweet treat offers some impressive health benefits, the doctor explained it needs to be consumed in moderation.
Dr Patel said: “The optimal amount of dark chocolate to consume for potential health benefits, including those related to cardiovascular health and stroke risk reduction, can vary based on several factors, including an individual’s age, gender, overall health, calorie needs, and lifestyle.
“While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, here are some general guidelines to consider.
“A small portion, such as a square or two – somewhere between 20g to 45g – of dark 70 percent (or higher) chocolate a day may be sufficient to enjoy potential benefits without overloading on calories.”
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