Dark chocolate reduces the risk of atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is characterized by an irregular, rapid heartbeat – and as if that wasn’t scary enough those heart flutters, weak feeling in your knees and being out of breath also raise your risk of stroke.

But now, according to a new study, you might want to indulge in chocolate – because it can reduce your risk of developing atrial fibrillation. Just make sure it’s dark chocolate.

Danish researchers tracked the chocolate consumption of 55,000 people between the ages of 50 and 64 over the course of nearly 12 years.

It turned out that those who ate between one to three 1-oz servings of chocolate each month were 10 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation than those who ate fewer or no servings.

And the more chocolate participants ate, the LOWER their risk was.

Four servings a month – or, one serving a week – led to an average 17 per cent lower atrial fibrillation risk across both the male and female participants in the study. But ladies, you can rejoice – because eating an ounce of chocolate once a week lowered women’s risk by 21 per cent.

Two to six weekly servings led to a risk reduced by, on average, 20 per cent. And gentleman, the news is even better for you – because the greatest risk reduction in the entire study was for men who ate two to six weekly servings, who lowered their risk by 23 per cent!

But it was not an all-you-can-eat chocolate fest… because eventually the benefits levelled out.

Those who ate seven or more weekly servings – that is, who developed a daily chocolate habit – only reduced their risk by 14 per cent.

Translation: chocolate in MODERATION can be a very good thing!

Now, not all chocolate is created equal when it comes to heart health.

The best stuff is dark chocolate, not only because it tends to be lower in sugar, but also because it has a higher content of cacao – which is chock-full of antioxidant plant compounds called flavonoids, which are known to improve your blood vessel function.

And maintaining healthy blood vessels is essential to preventing atrial fibrillation.

Of course, you can’t rely on chocolate alone to protect your heart.

Obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure have all been found to lead to atrial fibrillation, so you want to keep your weight and BP in check by eating a heart-healthy diet (I recommend going Paleo) and staying active.

Studies also show that vitamin C and weekly yoga classes can reduce atrial fibrillation episodes in those with the disease and may even prevent atrial fibrillation altogether.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Editor
Nutrition & Healing

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Sources:

Chocolate Helps Reduce Heart Risk: Study, newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/heart-chocolate-health/2017/05/23/id/791967/

Chocolate intake and risk of clinically apparent atrial fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study, heart.bmj.com/content/early/2017/05/01/heartjnl-2016-310357

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