According to a new study by Harvard University, eating up to six bars of chocolate a week could reduce the risk of a potentially fatal heart condition by nearly 25%.
The study, conducted on 50,000 people, found strong correlations between regular chocolate consumption and a reduced risk of suffering a heart flutter.
The strongest association was found among men that consumed between two and six portions of chocolate a week — portions being classified as a small bar 30g or less. Researchers found that those doing so had a 23% lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, compared with those that avoided chocolate. Among women, the effect was linked to eating just one portion a week, resulting in a 21% lower risk.
In the U.K. alone, more than 1.5 million people suffer from atrial fibrillation. The condition increases the risk of dying from other cardiac conditions, including stroke, heart attacks and heart failure by more than double. The condition occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become disorganized, resulting in the blood being pumped less effectively.
According to Dr. Gavin Sandercock, reader in clinical physiology at the University of Essex, the group eating the least chocolate – less than one portion a month – were far less healthy than all the others, making comparisons misleading. “They had the highest blood pressure, were most likely to have hypertension, most likely to have high cholesterol and were twice as likely to already have heart disease,” he said.
“They were fatter than all the other groups despite eating the least calories overall. In short, they were the unhealthiest group in the whole study — which means that almost any other group will seem healthier than them.”
It has been suggested that the study’s gender difference could be explained by the fact that the average man can consume more daily calories than their female counterparts without putting on weight.
So, chocolate lovers, don’t feel guilty about your moderate indulgence of your favorite chocolate treat. It may be the key to your cardiovascular health.
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