- Atrial fibrillation or heart
flutter is the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm and a major cause
of heart failure and stroke.
- Moderate consumption of dark
chocolate may lower the risk of atrial fibrillation, finds a new study
- Link between chocolate consumption
and atrial fibrillation was strongest for one serving/week for women and
2-6 servings/week for men
lovers, rejoice! A bite into your favorite dark chocolate
may lower the risk of an irregular heartbeat, which is also known as heart
published in the journal Heart
, found that weekly one
serving of chocolate lowered the risk of atrial fibrillation in women. In men,
two to six weekly servings of chocolate lowered the risk.
‘Dark chocolate may be a healthy snack option as it helps to prevent the development of atrial fibrillation.’
Linked to Lower Risk of Atrial Fibrillation
shown that regular consumption of chocolate, particularly dark chocolate can improve heart
. For the current study, the research team hypothesized, whether chocolate consumption might also be associated with a lower
rate of atrial fibrillation.
team from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard T H Chan School of
Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, collected data from the population-based
Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. The study involved 55,502 (26,400 men and
29,100 women) participants, aged between 50 and 64 years.
participants' weekly chocolate consumption was analyzed. One ounce or 30 grams
of chocolate is one serving. Most of the participants consumed milk chocolate
which contains minimum 30 % cocoa solids.
heart disease risk factors, diet, lifestyle, and smoking habits of the
participants was assessed. The health status of the participants was tracked
using national registry data on episodes of hospital treatment and deaths.
monitoring period of 13.5 years, 3346 new cases of atrial fibrillation were
the factors that are related to heart disease, the rate of newly diagnosed
atrial fibrillation was 10 % lower for 1 to 3 servings
of chocolate a month than it was for less than 1 serving a month.
- One weekly serving of chocolate
consumption lowered the risk of atrial fibrillation by 17 %
- 2 to 6 weekly servings of
chocolate lowered the risk by 20 %
- 1 or more daily servings lowered
the risk by 14 %
data based on gender, the incidence of atrial fibrillation was lower among
women than men irrespective of the intake. However, the association between
higher chocolate intake and lower risk of heart flutter remained even after
accounting for potentially influential factors.
serving of chocolate lowered the risk of atrial fibrillation
in women by 21 %. However, in men, 2 to 6 weekly servings lowered the risk by 23 %.
consumed high amounts of chocolates were likely to consume more daily calories.
The authors said
that no firm conclusions could be drawn because it is an observational study.
Though associations have been found between chocolate consumption and heart
health, milk may lower the levels of beneficial compounds in chocolate.
Chocolates are mostly added to high-calorie products containing fat and sugar,
which are known to have negative effects on heart
fact that most of the chocolate consumed in our sample probably contained
relatively low concentrations of the potentially protective ingredients, we
still observed a robust statistically significant association," said authors.
In an editorial,
doctors from the Duke Center for Atrial Fibrillation in North Carolina, USA,
highlight that chocolate eaters who participated in the study were healthier
and more highly education (factors that are associated with better heath which
might have influenced the findings).
factors for atrial fibrillation such as kidney disease and sleep apnea
(breathing difficulty at night) were not taken into account. The study included
only diagnosed cases of atrial fibrillation, making it difficult to determine, if chocolate consumption is associated with a lower risk of atrial
suggested that cocoa solids vary in different parts of the world, so the
findings might not apply in countries with lower levels.
Sea Pokorney and
Jonathan Piccini said, "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."
Consumption Benefit Heart Health?
consumption of chocolate and cocoa-containing foods may promote heart health
due to their high content of flavanols, a polyphenolic compound with
vasodilatory, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
contains higher flavonoid content than milk chocolate and thus yield greater
cardiovascular benefits. A study found that dark chocolate may have a higher
caloric content than milk chocolate, however, dark
chocolate promotes greater satiety and lowers the desire to eat something
sweet, resulting overall lower calorie intake.
fibrillation, also known as irregular heartbeat affects more than 33 million
people globally. In the United States, more than 2.7 to 6.1 million people have
this condition. The exact cause of atrial fibrillation is unknown. Atrial
fibrillation increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, cognitive decline,
dementia and premature death. Identifying methods for preventing and treating
atrial fibrillation is of great public health importance.
- Elizabeth Mostofsky, Martin Berg Johansen, Anne Tjønneland, Harpreet S Chahal, Murray A Mittleman, Kim Overvad. "Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study," Heart (2017) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357