Eating chocolates regularly could lower risk of irregular heartbeats

Share

The researchers, led by Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiologist who studies risk factors for cardiovascular disease at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, weren't the first to look for evidence that chocolate might prevent some cases of the unsafe heart rhythm, called atrial fibrillation. The chances of developing AF were 17 percent lower with one weekly serving of chocolate and 20 percent lower for 2 to 6 servings of chocolate and 14 percent lower with a daily consumption of one or more servings. How rich in cocoa a chocolate product is can greatly vary, so it is

The chances of developing AF were 17 percent lower with one weekly serving of chocolate and 20 percent lower for 2 to 6 servings of chocolate and 14 percent lower with a daily consumption of one or more servings. How rich in cocoa a chocolate product is can greatly vary, so it is hard to draw general conclusions from this study.

A media release about the research also notes that chocolate is high in fat and sugar, two things not always linked to a healthy heart, which is important to consider before you start scoffing blocks hoping to protect your ticker.

Dr. Gavin Sandercock, reader in clinical physiology at the University of Essex, said the group eating the least chocolate - less than one portion a month - were far less healthy than all the others, making comparisons misleading.

A new study suggests that people who eat small, regular amounts of chocolate may be less likely to develop heart flutters, known as atrial fibrillation. Prior studies had shown that compounds in cocoa can suppress inflammation, which can help protect the heart.

The strongest association for women seemed to be 1 weekly serving of chocolate (21% lower risk), while for men, it was 2 to 6 weekly servings (23% lower risk).

However, the study can not claim that the results of lowered risk of atrial fibrillation mean that it was actually caused by chocolate. The participants filled out questionnaires on their chocolate habits, and on risk factors for heart disease, to adjust the findings.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health reports there may be a decreased risk of irregular heartbeat in people who eat chocolate. How rich in cocoa a chocolate product is can greatly vary, so it is hard to draw general conclusions from this study. While chocolate may itself have physiological benefits against atrial fibrillation, particularly due to the presence of flavonoids, the lifestyle conditions that enabled the participants to consume chocolate regularly also need to be taken into account.

The associations were strongest for one serving per week for women and between two and six servings a week for men.

The mean of the monitoring period was 13.5 years and, during this period, 3,346 new atrial fibrillation cases were diagnosed. A 2015 study published in Heart found participants who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day, from candy bars to hot cocoa, had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke than those who did not eat any chocolate.

People who ate chocolate one to three times per month were about 10 % less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation than those who ate the sweet treat less than once a month, researchers found.

Still, Bond said that in her own practice she is "currently recommending to my chocolate-loving patients the consumption of dark chocolate - in moderation".

Share