There’s nothing wrong with indulging in chocolate regularly—at least when it comes to your heart, according to a new study.
The research, published online in the journal Heart, revealed that regular chocolate consumption may be linked to a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AFib). Previous studies have shown evidence that dark chocolate is linked to improvements in heart health, research the current study builds on.
In the current study, the associations were strongest for a weekly serving for women and two to six weekly servings for men, regardless of dark or milk chocolate consumption.
The research was based on data from more than 55,000 patients in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. Patients, who were 50 to 64 years old, provided information on how much chocolate they typically consumed in a week. One serving was classified as 1 ounce.
Results showed that during the monitoring period, which lasted for about 13.5 years, there were more than 3,300 new cases of AFib. After accounting for other factors, the newly diagnosed AFib rate was 10 percent lower in people who had one to three servings of chocolate a month than it was for those had less than one serving in a month.
The findings were also consistent when it came to how much chocolate patients were eating. AFib was 17 percent lower for those eating one serving a week, 20 percent lower for those eating two to six servings, and 14 percent lower for one or more daily servings. And the incidence of AFib was lower among women than men, irrespective of intake.
"Despite the 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,” the researchers said in a BMJ statement.