Chocolate lovers everywhere can rejoice! People often feel guilty after indulging in their love of chocolate, but there now is some news that might help to put that guilt aside.
Over the years there already have been many studies linking dark chocolate to heart health benefits. These studies have shown that polyphenols found in cocoa can help vascular health by increasing blood flow. Polyphenols found in cocoa are also shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Now new research indicates that individuals who consume between two to six servings of chocolate a week have a decreased risk of developing Atrial Fibrillation. Atrial Fibrillation is a condition of the heart that is exemplified by an irregular or fast heartbeat. Individuals who have Atrial Fibrillation are at higher risk for heart failure as well as stroke. According to the Author of the study, Elizabeth Motosofsky who is an epidemiologist at Harvard, “The rate of atrial fibrillation was 20 percent lower for people consuming two to six servings of chocolate per week” (npr.org).
Ms. Motosofsky discussed her results in BMJ Heart, a peer reviewed international journal, which goal it is to keep cardiologists up to date on the latest research.
The study followed individuals over time and included 55,000 people. All participants in the study were asked to fill out surveys regarding their lifestyle, their food intake and how much exercise they participated in. The study showed that participants who consumed chocolate, weather it was dark or milk chocolate, had a reduction of risk of Atrial Fibrillation.
The key however was moderation, the study found that the biggest reduction for Atrial Fibrillation was in individuals who ate two to six servings of chocolate every week. Interestingly it even showed a reduced risk of AFib (Atrial Fibrillation) for individuals who had just one serving of chocolate a week.
Researchers are now looking into whether using the cocoa extract – polyphenols in a supplement could have similar health benefits. It certainly will warrant further study but for now it gives us chocolate lovers a little guilt free pleasure!