Is chocolate supposed to be good or bad for your health? Just like eggs and cholesterol, it seems that there are conflicting reports that hit the news wire from time to time. A study points to chocolate possibly containing medicinal factors that might help to reduce the risk of an irregular heartbeat, although much more research will need to be done before something like that can be confirmed. According to medical researchers, they have come across a compound which could help in reducing the risk of a dangerous kind of heart rhythm which might eventually lead to other life threatening ailments such as strokes, heart failure and early death, or the loss of memory or dementia.
Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiologist who studies risk factors for cardiovascular disease at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, was the person who led this particular study and oversaw its results that were published in the journal Heart. It must be noted that this is not the first study that was on the lookout for hard evidence that chocolate could play a role in reducing the possibility of ending up with a dangerous heart rhythm case, which is otherwise known as atrial fibrillation.
The study saw over 55,000 Danish men and women participate, with them being tracked up to 16 years. It is definitely a longer term study than usual, where those who participated in the study and made use of such a compound were found to experience a 20% reduction in the likelihood of experiencing a heart condition. In other words, the higher the amount of dosage taken, the risk would lower in a corresponding manner.
There was another study in the past where researchers were not able to locate this link that concerns the consumption of chocolate as well as self-reported cases of atrial fibrillation, involving close to 19,000 American doctors who took part in the Physicians’ Health Study. Yet a different group of researchers hit the same brick wall when they looked at over 33,000 Americans who took part in a Women’s Health Study.
Motosfsky and her colleagues were not fazed by those who had fallen before them though, being confident that there had to be a link with chocolate and better heart health. Since it is widely believed that atrial fibrillation is a result from the release of select molecules that would end up damaging heart tissue, the ingredients that chocolate contains have been anecdotally known to counteract the potential damage from these molecules. Flavanols in chocolate is said to help prevent this kind of damaging inflammation which would end up with tissue damage, and there is also a possibility of it counteracting the clots that might form whenever there is an irregular heartbeat that enables blood to collect within the heart.
Close to two decades ago, participants took part in a study that was under the purview of the Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study, and the ages taken into consideration were those who were aged between 50 and 64. Detailed questionnaires concerning the kinds of food that they consumed as well as frequency were noted. By the time December 2009 rolled around, researchers discovered 3,346 clinically confirmed cases of atrial fibrillation (AF) that occurred among the 55,502 people involved. The discerning pattern? These people consumed chocolate less than once each month, while those who had some chocolate one to three times monthly had a 10% less chance of developing AF. It seems that it is best to consume chocolate two to six times a week as that resulted in a 20% lower risk. Of course, it is also important to take note that you should not simply eat any kind of chocolate, as cheaper brands might contain far more sugar than actual chocolate.