Can Chocolate Help Prevent Stroke in Men?

According to a recent study published in the journal Neurology, eating a moderate amount of chocolate each week may be associated with a lower risk of stroke in men. Study participants who ate the largest amount of chocolate, about one-third of a cup of chocolate chips, had a lower risk of stroke compared to the men who ate no chocolate.

Though it is tempting to recommend more chocolate consumption (at for least men), the usual caveats pertain to this kind of study design. While this is a prospective study, it is still observational and not randomized, so unmeasured differences between the groups of chocolate eaters may have influenced the outcome.

For example, men who are already healthier for various reasons might consider it “safer” to consume larger amounts of chocolate. They may have a lower stroke risk because they are already healthier in ways the study didn’t measure, not because they eat more chocolate. So it would be premature to assume a direct relationship between eating chocolate and a lower risk of stroke.

A randomized trial is the only way to establish whether chocolate is beneficial for stroke prevention. Regardless of there being many willing volunteers for a randomized trial of chocolate versus placebo, it’s unlikely that researchers would conduct one.

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