Dark chocolate `could reduce risk of brain damage from stroke`

You may forgo the guilt the next time you gorge on dark chocolate.

Updated: May 07, 2010, 13:19 PM IST

London: You may forgo the guilt the next
time you gorge on dark chocolate, for a new study has claimed
that it could reduce the risk of brain damage from a stroke.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University have
discovered that a compound called epicatechin, commonly found
in dark chocolate, actually protects the brain against strokes
by shielding nerve cells.

They based their findings on tests in mice and hope
the effects can be replicated in humans.

In their experiment, the scientists gave the mice a
dose of epicatechin and then induced a stroke in rodents by
cutting of blood supply to the animals` brains.

The findings revealed that the animals that had taken
the epicatechin had significantly less brain damage than the
ones that had not been given the compound.

And in positive news for eventual human trials, the
scientists found epicatechin was a better treatment for stroke
than current methods, the `Daily Mail` reported.

According to the scientists, the findings could be
important in the possible treatment of strokes.

"Animals that had preventively ingested the
epicatechin suffered significantly less brain damage than the
ones that had not been given the compound.

"While most treatments against stroke in humans
have to be given within a two- to three-hour time window to
be effective, epicatechin appeared to limit further neuronal
damage when given to mice 3.5 hours after a stroke.

"Given six hours after a stroke, however, the compound
offered no protection to brain cells," Professor Sylvain Dor
was quoted as saying.

Prof Dore said the findings, published in the `Journal
of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism` could be a step forward
in the understanding of strokes.

"I hope this research into these pathways
could lead to insights into limiting acute stroke damage and
possibly protecting against chronic neurological degenerative
conditions, such as Alzheimer`s disease and other age-related
cognitive disorders," he said.

PTI