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Chocolate linked to reduced AF risk

Wednesday May 24th, 2017

There is some evidence that consuming small amounts of chocolate may be linked to a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation, researchers say today.

Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and colleagues carried out a large study of men and women in Denmark.

They used figures from 55,502 participants aged 50 to 64 years whose chocolate intake was measured at the start of the study. Over the next 13.5 years 3,346 cases of atrial fibrillation were diagnosed.

Analysis suggests that the rate of atrial fibrillation was lower for those who ate chocolate regularly, than for those who ate none at all. The type of chocolate eaten was not recorded.

The greatest reduction in risk was seen for those eating two to six servings per week. The effect was similar for men and women. A serving was deemed to be 30g.

The study appeared yesterday (23 May) in Heart. Dr Mostofsky says: "Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioural factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias."

The team believe that any cardiovascular benefits in chocolate may arise due to its flavanol content, linked to healthy blood vessel function.

Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation said: "Chocolate, or rather, the cocoa it contains, has previously been linked to a variety of cardiovascular benefits and in this case, people who ate more had a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation.

"However, although this is a large study, it is only observational and so other factors could also be responsible for the effects seen. The type of chocolate eaten wasn't recorded either, therefore we can't directly translate these findings into recommendations."

Mostofsky, E. et al. Chocolate Intake and Risk of Clinically Apparent Atrial Fibrillation: the Danish Diet, Cancer, and Health Study. Heart 23 May 2017 doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2016-310357 [abstract]

Tags: Diet & Food | Heart Health | North America

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