Chocolate Might Lower Risk Of Irregular Heartbeat, Study Finds

Chocolate Might Lower Risk Of Irregular Heartbeat, Study Finds

After accounting for other factors, the newly diagnosed AFib rate was 10 percent lower in people who had 1-3 servings of chocolate a month than it was for those had less than one serving in a month. Well, it turns out some aspects of that quaint idea may actually be true: A new study found eating chocolate could help prevent atrial fibrillation-a condition that causes an irregular heartbeat.

Eating up to six bars of chocolate a week could reduce the risk of a potentially fatal heart condition by nearly one quarter, a study by Harvard University suggests. When the data were analysed by sex, the incidence of atrial fibrillation was lower among women than among men irrespective of intake, but the associations between higher chocolate intake and lower risk of heart flutter remained even after accounting for potentially influential factors. However, they did not have to detail what kind of chocolate they consumed. New research suggests that you shouldn't feel too guilty. These men had a 23 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation.

Where did the story come from?

We know that all sounds very sciencey, but bear with us.

This study is not the final word on how chocolate consumption may influence heart health.

The study was covered widely in the United Kingdom media.

The sweet aphrodisiac is good for you - especially if you're male.

Of course, the study also has limitations.

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The study can not say for certain that it was the chocolate that prevented atrial fibrillation, however.

What did the research involve?

Research was conducted from 1993 to 1997 on around 55,000 people between the ages of 50 and 64 in Denmark. Everyone completed a food questionnaire, had health checks and gave other information about their health and lifestyle.

These participants were followed for a median of 13.5 years, during which 3346 cases of atrial fibrillation were reported. Researchers checked them against a Danish health registry to see if they were treated in hospital for AF.

However, a linked editorial sounds a note of caution.

Another difference is that the new study measured cases of "clinically apparent" atrial fibrillation that were recorded in Denmark's national health records. Results were similar for men and women. The data also suggested those who ate the most chocolate consumed more calories but had a lower body mass index. Those who ate one serving a week had a 17-percent lower rate; and those who ate two to six servings a week had a 20-percent lower rate, researchers found. They say they adjusted the figures using "extensive data" on diet, lifestyle and other illnesses, but that "we can not preclude the possibility of residual or unmeasured confounding". Researchers say that consuming moderate amounts can significantly lower the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF).

Dr Gavin Sandercock, reader in clinical physiology from 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.

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