Some good news for chocolate lovers, especially men. Harvard researchers found that eating up to six bars of chocolate a week could reduce the risk of a potentially developing an irregular heartbeat.
The study released Wednesday found that those who ate moderate amounts of chocolate were at a lower risk for being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (or AF)—a life threatening irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure or dementia.
Harvard researchers also concluded that the risk also went down as much as 20% in men who ate between two and six bars (about 30g) or portions of chocolate a week, while women saw their best results when only eating one serving of chocolate per week.
“[There is] a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of AF—suggesting that even small amounts of cocoa consumption can have a positive health impact,” said Elizabeth Mostofsky, instructor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School, a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and lead author of the study.
However not all chocolate is created equal, the study suggests. Researchers concluded that dark chocolate is best to promote healthy blood vessels. They also warn chocolate lovers not to take it too far either.
“Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar and fat and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems,” Mostofsky adds. “But moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content may be a healthy choice.”
The study was conducted between 1993 and 1997 in Denmark with 55,502 men and women who were participating in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study