Sweet news from chocolate researchers: A component of dark chocolate can help protect brain cells when oxygen is cut off by a stroke.
In the 2010 study, researchers gave epicatechin, found naturally in dark chocolate, to lab animals before and after inducing a stroke. The pretreated animals did much better than their untreated counterparts.
Even more interestingly, researchers found the effect even when treating up to 3.5 hours after the stroke; most current post-stroke treatments are only effective if given more quickly.
How does it work? It seems that epicatechin turns on two pathways that work to protect brain cells. This suggests that a little bit of regular, high-quality, dark chocolate may be a good defense — and a handy item to keep in the first-aid kit. (Via ScienceDaily.)