Oh, chocolate. Not only are you one of the most universally savored treats on the planet, but every day it seems a study is released revealing yet another one of your amazing health benefits.
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The latest research on the almost-superfood doesn’t fail to impress. It maintains that consuming moderate amounts of cocoa may significantly lower the risk of being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a common but seriously dangerous kind of irregular heartbeat affecting millions of people.
That’s right — eating chocolate is good for your heart health. As if you needed another reason to indulge, right? The specific link between chocolate and the heart is flavanols, the main type of flavonoid (a class of plant nutrients) found in cocoa. These flavanols — also found in red wine — lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and make blood platelets less able to clot, all helping your heartbeat stay regular.
“Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioral factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias,” says lead study author Elizabeth Mostofsky.
Researchers in Denmark examined health data from 55,202 men and women, including diagnoses of atrial fibrillation. Here’s where it got interesting: Men and women who ate 1- to 3-ounce servings of chocolate per month had a 10 percent lower rate of atrial fibrillation than those who only consumed a 1-ounce serving per month. Those who indulged in a serving of chocolate per week had a 17 percent lower rate. And the people who consumed two to six servings per week? They had a 20 percent lower rate.
“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,” Mostofsky said.
While this is all good news, it’s important to remember not to overdo it and start filling your water bottles with melted chocolate. After all, it’s still high in calories, fat and sugar. It’s also very important to pick your chocolate wisely, shying away from anything with a low cacao (or cocoa) content, like milk chocolate, or anything that is overly processed and contains an abundance of additives. Here is a list of the 12 best “clean” dark chocolate bars to help you make the right choice!
What Do YOU Think?
How much chocolate do you eat per week? Will you consume more because of this study? What is your favorite brand of dark chocolate?