Eating a little chocolate regularly may lower the odds for a common and potentially dangerous heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or AFib, say Harvard researchers.
Past studies have linked eating cocoa products, such as dark chocolate, with cardiovascular benefits, but there hasn’t been a lot of research on chocolate and atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat condition linked with a higher risk for stroke and heart failure, said study author Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiology instructor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Some people with AFib describe the irregular heartbeat as feeling like a fluttering sensation.
Mostofsky and her colleagues analyzed a large Danish database of 55,502 men and women, combing through information on their dietary habits and health conditions recorded at the start of the Danish diet and cancer study. The scientists analyzed later health diagnoses, too, gleaned from a national patient database.
The authors found 3,346 cases of atrial fibrillation were diagnosed during the 13.5 years following the study’s start.
When they looked at chocolate eating habits, they found that atrial fibrillation risk was:
10 percent lower for people who ate 1 to 3 servings per month
17 percent lower for people who ate 1 serving per week
20 percent lower for people who ate 2 to 6 servings per week
16 percent lower for people who ate one or more serving per day
A serving size was equal to one ounce – about 3 or 4 squares of chocolate. The data was similar for men and women, the authors noted.
The new findings are exciting, said Mostofsky, because there is very little research on atrial fibrillation and lifestyle factors….