How a chocolate a day can keep this heart condition at bay
-Jun 4, Hannah Hargrave, Health -
As if we need another reason to love chocolate! Research has shown that the delicious brown treat is not only good for your tastebuds, but for a specific heart condition too.
Consuming small amounts of cocoa has been shown to significantly lower the risk of atrial fibrillation, which is a condition that is linked to stroke and heart failure.
But before you go breaking into all the leftover Easter chocolate, sadly if you want to reap the benefits there’s some portion control you need to abide by.
What is atrial fibrillation?
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an abnormal, fast, irregular heartbeat. It’s a dangerous condition because the abnormal rhythm can cause blood clots to form in the heart and travel to the brain resulting in a stroke. Sufferers need blood thinning medication to stop the clot from forming in the first place.
How can chocolate help?
It’s all about the flavanols when it comes to the link between cocoa and the heart. Cocoa is packed with a unique blend of the beneficial plant-based nutrients which lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to help keep your heartbeat regular.
Why moderation is key
Harvard researchers conducted a huge study on more than 55,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 64 in Denmark. Their health was tracked for 13 1/2 years and by the end of the study 3346 new cases of AF had been diagnosed. They then found that atrial fibrillation risk was:
- 10 percent lower for people who ate 1 to 3 servings of chocolate 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 classed a one ounce – approximately 3 to 4 squares of chocolate.
“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioural factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias,” said lead study author Elizabeth Mostofsky.
But remember not to overdo it!
“We’re seeing some real health benefits from eating cocoa,” she added. “Obviously, eating too much poses other risks, but chocolate, in moderation, can be part of a healthy diet.”
Did you enjoy this article? You might also like to read Lumity’s interview with ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ star Karen Clifton to find out how she handles her chocolate obsession.