A new scientific study claims that eating dark chocolate may help protect the brain after a stroke.
Epicatechin, a compound found in the confectionary, appears to increase the cellular signals that are already known to shield nerve cells from stroke damage, according to an article in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism.
Researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore found that mice given epicatechin suffered significantly less brain damage than those who had not received the treatment when a stroke was induced 90 minutes later.
Study leader Dr Sylvain Dore said that epicatechin activates the brain pathways Nrf2 and heme oxygenase 1, meaning the brain is ready to protect itself using these pathways when the stroke hits.
"Epicatechin itself may not be shielding brain cells from free radical damage directly, but instead, epicatechin and its metabolites may be prompting the cells to defend themselves," said Dr Dore.
According to the Stroke Association, every five minutes someone in the UK has a stroke, equating to around 120,000 people every year.
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