There have been numerous studies to prove the various cardiovascular benefits of eating moderate levels of dark chocolate. With millions of Americans suffering from atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of heart arrhythmia, new research found that eating chocolate could lower your risk of AFib.
What is AFib
AFib is a condition that causes an irregular and often rapid heart rate resulting in poor blood flow, which could lead to chest pains and other heart complications. Between 2.7-6.1 million Americans suffer from AFib, and more than 750,000 hospitalizations occur each year because of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) beat at a different pace than the two lower chambers. The pace of the beating is often described as chaotic and irregular. While some people may not show any symptoms of AFib and are unaware they have this condition, others may experience the following symptoms such as:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart palpitations (rapid, fluttering, or pounding)
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
AFib can occur in brief episodes or it may develop into a permanent condition. Although AFib is considered a non life-threatening condition, if left untreated, it can lead to serious medical heart problems. Treatments vary from medications to control the heart’s rate and rhythm to surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Chocolate and AFib
A recent study found that eating chocolate in moderate amounts could be beneficial for people suffering from AFib. A team of American, Canadian, and Danish researchers discovered adults who ate about one ounce of chocolate a week were 17 percent less likely to develop AFib by the end of the study compared to people who ate less than an ounce of chocolate a month.
Researchers analyzed the diets of more than 55,502 participants (men and women) in Denmark ranging in age from 50 to 64 years-old. Of that number, 3,350 of the participants were diagnosed with AFib over an average of 13.5 years, according to the study.
After examining data submitted from the start of the research, results showed those who consumed chocolate two to six times per week were 20 percent less likely to suffer from the heart abnormality. Participants who consumed chocolate daily were 16 percent less likely to develop AFib.
As a result, chocolate intake two to six times per week is the ideal consumption amount, especially for men. Men who ate two to six servings of chocolate per week saw a bigger reduction in the risk of developing AFib. Women who ate only one serving of chocolate a week showed the least likelihood of an AFib diagnosis.
While a moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content has plenty of health benefits, remember a lot of chocolate products are still high in calories and gain lead to weight gain if eaten in excessive amounts.
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