In this case, instead of chocolate being bad, we learn it might be good: Researchers reviewing data from the medical records of people enrolled in the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study found that those who self-reported at baseline eating chocolate a couple of times a month were less likely to have atrial fibrillation (AF) than those reporting eating chocolate less than once a month, over a 13-year timeframe.
Research has found the best way for women to prevent atrial fibrillation is to enjoy a single serving of chocolate a week - while men can have up to six. The positive impact was the strongest when women consumed one weekly serving of chocolate and when men consumed two to six servings of chocolate. Lichtenstein was not involved in the study.
In the new study, the researchers analyzed data collected from more than 55,000 adults between ages 50 and 64 in Denmark. The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Center for Research Resources and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health Award KL2 TR001100) and the Danish Cancer Society and the Danish Council for Strategic Research (Aalborg AF-Study Group). However, they were not asked to specify the type of chocolate they have consumed.
The researchers then followed up with the participants who suffered from AF over a 13.5-year follow-up period from the original survey, which took place between 1993 and 1997.
Eating chocolate in moderate servings may possibly help reduce atrial fibrillation risks. The researchers were also quick to point out that though chocolate was the substance being indicated in the study, it is cocoa and not commercial chocolate products that protects against atrial fibrillation. They may limit the inflammatory process in the body, reducing the stickiness of the blood and leading to less scarring of connective tissue. That damage changes the way electrical signals travel through the chambers of the heart, causing one's heartbeat to flutter instead of beating in a steady rhythm.
The study showed that men and women who ate one to three servings per month had a 10 per cent lower rate of atrial fibrillation. These men had a 23 percent lower risk of atrial fibrillation.
"It's very likely - if I had to bet - that these people were more physically active", Alice Lichtenstein, director and senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, told Reuters.
According to a new study that was conducted in Denmark, a little bit of chocolate every week may actually decrease the risk of irregular heart rhythm.
A linked editorial also questions whether the results could be applied "outside of the study population".
James Cadbury's chocolate company "Love Cocoa" pop up stall at Old Street Underground station on April 5, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. Sea Pokroney and Jonathan Piccini, of Duke University Medical Center, noted. "Especially given the importance of identifying effective prevention strategies for [atrial fibrillation]". In general, the higher the dose, the lower the risk.