Chocolate Can Be Helpful in Preventing Irregular Heartbeat
Consuming chocolate has been found to reduce the chances of having stroke and heart disease. A new study of Denmark suggested that consuming it regularly could help in preventing atrial fibrillation, a condition characterized with irregular heartbeat.
Researchers were able to find that people who consumed chocolate more than usual in a month had 10 or 20 percent lower atrial fibrillation rates as compared to those who did not consume that much chocolate, as per the new findings published on 23rd May in a journal called Heart.
When atria, the upper chambers of the heart don’t beat in a similar pace as of the lower chambers, it is called an irregular heartbeat or atrial fibrillation. Having this condition could increase one’s chances of having cognitive impairment, heart failure, and stroke.
As millions of American citizens are suffering from atrial fibrillation, it is necessary to figure out the right ways of preventing this condition from occurring, according to the study researchers.
Two earlier studies also tried to look into the connection chocolate consumption had with respect to having atrial fibrillation, but the findings only indicated that the association could be a result of a chance factor.
The earlier studies only included a single gender in their study. But the new study included both the genders while collecting data. This study also included people who were diagnosed clinically with atrial fibrillation.
The researchers had to analyse data from 55,000 participants whose ages ranged from 50 years to 64 years in Denmark. The participants were also part of a study named Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study.
They had to answer a food-frequency questionnaire when they were recruited in the beginning. Those questions also included the frequency of chocolate consumption in the previous year.
Chocolate Consumption in Moderation
The researchers were able to find that about 3,300 participants were identified with atrial fibrillation during the follow-up period that took place in 13.5 years.
When other factors were taken into consideration, like smoking, alcohol intake, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity, the study could find an association between moderate chocolate consumption and reduced risk of having atrial fibrillation.
The study could not figure out the cause and effect relationship between the two variables. But it can be hypothesized that the compounds, known as flavonoids, present in chocolate would have a role to play in reducing the risk, as per the researchers.
Flavonoids are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, according to Elizabeth Mostofsky. It may have a role to play in remodelling the electrical impulses to the heart to prevent the occurrence of atrial fibrillation.
Mostofsky also mentioned that the chocolate sold in Europe has a high cocoa content as compared to those found in the United States.
The results showed that as compared to other choices of snacks, chocolate are a heart-healthy one, according to Mostofsky.
One limitation of the study would be that the results may not be generalizable as other populations may not be like the people of Denmark, according to other researchers.
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