In a press release straight from the Easter Bunny, researchers in Britain announced that eating just one chocolate bar has a singular effect on the brain and may reduce the risk of stroke.
Though previous research showed positive health benefits from the consumption of dark chocolate, investigators reported in the journal Neurology how chocolate affects blood vessels in the brain. Glasgow University scientists measured the speed of blood moving through the brain's largest artery while subjects ate chocolate while lying down. The chocolate affected carbon dioxide, which increased blood flow and impacted individual cells in the brain.
"Consumption of a normal chocolate bar was associated with a change in stiffness of the blood cells," said Matthew Walters, a professor there who led the study. "Our data is consistent with a direct effect of chocolate on the brain blood vessels."
He added: 'It raises the possibility that there is a direct effect of some component of the chocolate on blood vessels."
Walters said the flavonoid molecules in the chocolate were responsible for the effect. Such flavonoids, found in the cacao plant and others, are antioxidants helpful in preventing heart disease, the Daily Mail reported.
The findings bolster good news from last year, when scientists reported in the Achives of Internal Medicine that chocolate eaters tended to have lower body mass indexes, with dark chocolate particularly beneficial to health.
Researchers not involved with the study advised the public to take the news in context, however. Tom Solomon, a professor at Liverpool University, said scientists should take the fidnings "with caution," given that consumption of such high-sugar, high-fat foods contributes to obesity, a growing problem in the United Kingdom.