A little chocolate each week may help prevent a heart flutter

Harvard researchers have found consuming moderate amounts of chocolate may lower the risk of atrial fibrillation, or AF, a common type of irregular heartbeat.

Scientists, using food-frequency questionnaires to determine chocolate consumption, collected diet and health data from 55,502 men and women ages 50 to 64 in Denmark. Indulging in a little chocolate each week maybe be linked with a lower risk of developing the heart rhythm irregularity atrial fibrillation, according to new Danish research.

A new study claims chocolate can reduce the risk of a unsafe heart rhythm that can lead to major health issues such as stroke, dementia and heart failure.

The positive effect of chocolate consumption was the maximum when women consumed 1 serving of chocolate per week and men ate 2 to 6 servings of chocolate weekly.

Milk chocolate in Denmark is defined as having at least 30 per cent cocoa solids.

Readers deserve to know that actually, while the research may be intriguing-and possibly worthy of further exploration-this study and so many other diet studies like it just aren't conclusive of anything.

Given that regular consumption of chocolate, in particular, dark chocolate, has been related to improvements in various heart health indicators, the researchers wanted to see if it might also be connected with a lower atrial fibrillation rate.

The study was published online May 23 in the journal Heart. However, this benefit tapered off for those who ate one or more servings per day; they experienced only a 16 percent lower AF rate. The researchers concluded that higher levels of chocolate intake were associated with a lower rate of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation among men and women.

Information on heart disease risk factors, diet, and lifestyle was obtained when the participants were recruited to the study.

The best kind of scientific study is the one that uncovers an upside to chocolate, and the latest one has determined that eating it might be good for your heart.

Between 2.7 million and 6.1 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, so it's important to identify effective ways to help prevent the condition from developing, the researchers wrote in their study. An irregular heart rhythm is called atrial fibrillation.

The strongest association was found among men eating between two and six portions of chocolate a week - with a portion classified as 30g, or a small bar.

The study does however warn against eating too much chocolate, because most chocolate products are high in sugar, fat and calories. The condition seemed to be less frequent in people who ate between one and three servings of chocolate a month.

Previous research has found high consumption of chocolate can lead to more heart health benefits, but moderation is key.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.

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

  • Rogelio Lindsey