Eat Chocolate for Steady Heartbeat
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Regular chocolate consumption may be linked to a lower risk of developing the heart rhythm irregularity atrial fibrillation, also known as heart flutter, a research published in the journal Heart found.
The associations seemed to be strongest for one weekly serving for women and between 2 and 6 weekly servings for men, the findings suggested.
Atrial fibrillation affects more than 33 million people worldwide, with one in four adults likely to develop it at some point during the life course. It is not clear exactly what causes it, but there is currently no cure, and no obvious contenders for prevention either.
Given that regular chocolate consumption, particularly of dark chocolate, has been linked to improvements in various indicators of heart health, the researchers wanted to see if it might also be associated with a lower rate of atrial fibrillation.
They drew on 55,502 (26,400 men and 29,100 women) participants, aged between 50 and 64, from the population-based Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study.
Participants provided information on their usual weekly chocolate consumption, with one serving classified as 1 ounce (30 g). But they were not asked to specify which type of chocolate they ate.
During the monitoring period, which averaged 13.5 years, 3346 new cases of atrial fibrillation were diagnosed. After accounting for other factors related to heart disease, the newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation rate was 10 per cent lower for 1-3 servings of chocolate a month than it was for less than 1 serving a month.
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.
Doctors from the Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation in North Carolina, US, highlight that the chocolate eaters in the study were healthier and more highly educated -- factors associated with better general health -- which might have influenced the findings.
"Regardless of the limitations of the Danish chocolate study, the findings are interesting and warrant further consideration, especially given the importance of identifying effective prevention strategies for (atrial fibrillation)," Dr. Sea Pokorney and Dr. Jonathan Piccini said.