A Harvard University study suggests that eating moderate amounts of chocolate could reduce the risks of a potential heart condition by one quarter. The research was conducted on a sample of more than 50,000 people and found strong links between a weekly consumption of the sweet and lowered a heart condition known as flutter. The strongest association was found among men eating between two and six portions of chocolate a week – with a portion classified as 30g, which is a small bar. Those doing so had a 23 per cent lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, compared with those avoiding such treats.
Among women, the effect was linked to eating just one portion a week, which was linked to a 21 per cent lower risk. But other experts said the group eating the least chocolate were unhealthier in other ways – meaning it might not be the daily treats that explained the better health of those who liked to indulge. Chocolate has previously been linked to other aspects of cardiac health.
It is thought it may have an anti-inflammatory effect, because it is high in flavonoids. The new research did not ask participants to specify which type of chocolate they ate, but took place in Denmark, where milk varieties are more commonly eaten.
The study involved 55,502 participants, aged between 50 and 64, from the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. Their health was then tracked for an average of 14 years, using national registry data on episodes of hospital treatment and deaths.