The study showed that men and women who ate one to three servings per month had a 10 percent lower rate of atrial fibrillation.
While those who ate one serving per week had a 17 percent lower rate, on the other hand those who ate two to six servings per week had a 20 per cent lower rate.
“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioural factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias,” said lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, from Harvard Chan School in the US.
“Despite the fact that most of the chocolate consumed by the study participants likely had relatively low concentrations of potentially protective ingredients, we still observed a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of atrial fibrillation — suggesting that even small amounts of cocoa consumption can have a positive health impact,” she added.
For the study, published in the journal Heart, the team included 55,502 (26,400 men and 29,100 women) participants, aged between 50 and 64.
“Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar and fat and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems. But moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content may be a healthy choice,” Mostofsky noted.
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