08/30/2012 10:48 am ET

Chocolate Consumption Linked With Decreased Stroke Risk In Men

Chocolate's good for the heart, chocolate's good for the brain ... and now chocolate is good for stroke risk?

A new study in the journal Neurology shows that chocolate consumption is linked with a decreased risk of stroke in men.

"The beneficial effect of chocolate consumption on stroke may be related to the flavonoids in chocolate. Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties," study researcher Susanna C. Larsson, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institute, said in a statement. "It's also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure."

The new study included 37,103 men from Sweden, who were between ages 49 and 75. They filled out questionnaires detailing the frequency with which they ate certain foods, including chocolate.

Then, the researchers followed up with them 10 years later, and found that 1,995 of the study participants had suffered a stroke.

The study participants who ate the most chocolate had a 17 percent lower risk of stroke than those who didn't report any chocolate consumption, researchers found. The highest amount of chocolate consumption was 63 grams -- in terms of chocolate chips, it's about one-third of a cup.

Plus, researchers analyzed the results of five past studies, and also found a link between stroke risk and chocolate consumption. That analysis, which included 4,260 cases of stroke, showed that the biggest chocolate eaters had a 19 percent decreased risk of stroke, compared to the lowest chocolate eaters.

However, it's important to note that this was only an observational study -- researchers only identified a link between eating chocolate and stroke risk, not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Men might not be the only ones to benefit from chocolate, either -- a study last year from the same researchers showed that women who consumed the most chocolate also had a lower risk of stroke, USA Today reported.

While we are all for chocolate-is-good-for-you news, keep in mind, though, that it can be high in calories, fat and sugar -- so remember not to overdo it.

Want more sweet reasons to love chocolate? Click through the slideshow:

Chocolate Health Benefits