If there's a scientific reason to eat chocolate, I want to know about it. And if you love the sweet stuff too, you'll be pleased to know that eating chocolate has been linked to a lower risk of heart flutter. Yes, that means you can now say "I'm eating this chocolate to calm my heart!"
What is heart flutter?
The fancy term for it is "atrial fibrillation", and it's that fluttery feeling you get in your chest from time to time.
More than 33 million people around the world experience it. And one in four adults will have atrial fibrillation at some point in their life.
We don't really know the cause, and we don't have a cure. There also doesn't seem to be a way to prevent heart flutter.
But given that chocolate has already been shown to have a positive effect on heart health, the research team wanted to see if it could help reduce heart flutter.
Chocolate and the heart
The study, published in Heart journal, found that eating chocolate once a week lowered the risk of heart flutter by 21% in women. And in men, two to six servings a week had a 23% reduced risk.
How was the discovery made? By testing a whopping 55,502 people (26,400 men and 29,100 women) aged between 50 and 64. They were monitored for an extensive period of 13.5 years, in which time there were 3,346 new cases of atrial fibrillation.
They were asked to tally their weekly chocolate intake. They also had to provide information about their diet, lifestyle, smoking habits, and heart disease risk factors.
Limitations of the chocolate study
It's important to note that the participants didn't record the type of chocolate they ate. But since the study was done in Denmark, researchers concluded that they most likely ate milk chocolate.
Interestingly, milk chocolate is high in sugar and fat – not exactly a recipe for a healthy heart!
"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 statement.
"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]."