Eating chocolate on a regular basis may be associated to a lower risk of heart disease, according to a new study published online by Heart on Tuesday.
Researchers have discovered a link between moderate chocolate intake and a lowered risk for atrial fibrillation or flutter(AF), the irregular heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure and other serious problems.
Using food-frequency questionnaires to determine chocolate consumption, scientists collected diet and health data from 55,502 men and women ages 50 to 64 in Denmark. About 3,346 cases of atrial fibrillation occurred in this follow-up study lasting over 13 years.
Participants who ate one to three one-ounce (28.35 grams) servings a month had a 10-percent lower rate of AF than those who hardly did. Those who ate one serving a week had a 17-percent lower rate; and those who ate two to six servings a week had a 20-percent lower rate, researchers found.
Interestingly, the study also shows that "participants with higher levels of chocolate intake were more likely to report a higher level of educational attainment."
However, the team noted that the study was "observational" and cannot prove that chocolate prevents AF.