Study: Chocolate May Reduce Risk of Arrhythmias
Atrial fibrillation is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in Germany with an estimated more than two million people affected. Doctors generally advise a healthier lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise to prevent such diseases. A study has now shown that moderate consumption of chocolate can also help.
Two million Germans suffer from atrial fibrillation
It is estimated that around two million people in Germany suffer from atrial fibrillation. In order to prevent the most common cardiac arrhythmia in this country, it is particularly important that beneficial diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes or coronary heart disease (CHD) are treated. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided. In addition, a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise is recommended. Avoid being overweight. Researchers are now reporting on another way that can help prevent atrial fibrillation: consuming chocolate.
Chocolate appears to be healthier than its reputation
Chocolate is actually considered an unhealthy fattener. In the past few years, however, there have been various examinations that have also confirmed the delicious sweets to have positive health effects - especially on the heart.
Last year, a US study showed that dark chocolate improves cardiovascular health.
In another study, there was evidence that even whole milk chocolate can contribute to a healthier heart.
The researchers speculate that this may indicate that not only antioxidant substances like flavonoids explain the connection with heart diseases, but also milk components such as calcium and fatty acids.
A study has now shown further health benefits: According to a statement from Harvard University (USA), moderate consumption of chocolate in a scientific study was associated with a significantly lower risk of atrial fibrillation.
High cocoa content important
In their communication, the experts point out that previous studies have concluded that dark chocolate with a high cocoa content in particular has cardiovascular benefits.
In the current study by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health evaluated the data from 55,502 men and women who had participated in a Danish study. This was carried out by scientists from Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark.
The subjects who were recruited between December 1993 and May 1997 also included health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, as well as data on their diet and lifestyle.
Less atrial fibrillation due to chocolate consumption
A total of 3,346 study participants were diagnosed with atrial fibrillation during the 13.5-year observation period.
The researchers found that the rate for subjects who ate one ounce of chocolate (1 ounce = 28.35 grams) one to three times a month was 10 percent lower than those who consumed less of it.
Those who ate one serving weekly were 17 percent lower and those who ate two to six servings a week had a 20 percent lower rate.
With higher - daily - chocolate consumption, the health benefit decreased again.
The results of the study were recently published in the specialist magazine "Heart".
No call for excessive snacking
"Despite the fact that most of the chocolate consumed by the study participants was likely to have relatively low levels of potentially protective ingredients, we did see a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of atrial fibrillation," said Elizabeth Mostofsky of the Harvard Chan School.
This indicates "that the consumption of small amounts of cocoa could also have a positive health effect," said the expert.
But "it is not recommended to overeat chocolate because it is high in calories from sugar and fat and can lead to obesity and other metabolic problems," said Mostofsky.
"But a moderate intake of chocolate with a high cocoa content can be a healthy choice." (Ad)