Taking chocolate to heart
A longitudinal study suggests chocolate may reduce cardiac risk. ANDREW MASTERSON reports.
Want to do something good for your heart? Eat chocolate. Want to do something even better for your heart? Eat more chocolate.
That’s the slightly surprising finding of a Harvard study in the journal Heart from examining the dietary habits of 55,500 Danes over a period of 14 years.
Epidemiologist Elizabeth Mostofsky and colleagues looked at the relationship between chocolate eating and a type of irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation (AF).
Drilling through the data accumulated for participants in the Danish Diet, Cancer and Heath Study, the researchers found 3,346 cases of AF over a 13-and-a-half year period.
Cohort members were classified according to body-mass index, blood pressure and lifestyle, and asked to estimate chocolate consumption.
The results were then ranked against AF frequency.
The baseline was set at those who ate less than 28 grams (one ounce) a month. Compared to this, people who enjoyed between 28 and 84 grams a month had a 10% lower AF risk.
People who ate 28 grams per week showed a 17% lower risk, while folk who snarfed between 56 and 168 grams a week had a 20% lower risk.
Results were identical for men and women.
“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 author Elizabeth Mostofsky.