A recent study published in the Heart journal found that chocolate is good for the heart. Eating a small quantity of chocolate weekly can prevent irregularities in the heart rhythm. People who consume the snack between one and three times per month are less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.
Chocolate contains anti-inflammatory substances
Elizabeth Mostofsky, the lead author of the study, advises people to consume chocolate moderately, as it might turn out good for their heart. The high quantity of flavanol present in cocoa has an anti-inflammatory effect, relaxes blood vessels, and works as an anti-oxidant.
Previous studies discovered that eating chocolate regularly is linked to a smaller risk of suffering a heart attack. Dark chocolate is recommended, as it has more flavanols. However, there was not clear if chocolate consumption also reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation.
The research looked at data collected during a long-term study from 55,502 people from Denmark. The participants, aged between 50 and 64, had their dietary habits supervised. Then, the researchers consulted their medical records and saw who had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. They identified 3,346 cases which occurred in 13.5 years.
Eating chocolate weekly is beneficial
After looking at their diets, researchers saw that those people who ate 1 ounce of chocolate per week had a 17 percent lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation. The more the quantity of chocolate increased, the smaller was the risk. Eating between 2 and 6 ounces per week reduced the risk by 20 percent.
However, the study has its limitations. Researchers did not account for other risk factors present in the participants, such as sleep apnea or kidney disease. Also, they did not look at the concentration of flavanols or the types of chocolate consumed.
Other findings showed that the participants who ate more chocolate had a lower body mass index than those who did not. This could mean that they were more physically active, which represents a big risk-reducing factor. Therefore, consuming chocolate moderately is recommended, but people should also pay attention to other risk factors.
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