Chocolate in Moderation is Actually Good for You

1Now You Have a Good Reason . . .

It is the world’s guiltiest pleasure– a delight to the tastebuds but a devil to the waistline. Now chocolate’s health cred has been given a big boost, with evidence that it can steady an irregular heartbeat.

A study has found people who eat chocolate are less likely to suffer from atrial fibrillation, or abnormal heart rhythm. An incurable condition that distorts the heart’s electrical system, it can cause palpitations, chest pains and dizziness and help trigger strokes, heart attacks and dementia.

The research crunched health and diet data from more than 55,000 Danish people in their 60s and 50s, in a study lasting 16 years. It found that people with modest chocolate habits were up to 23 per cent less likely to have been diagnosed with AF than those who rarely or never imbibed.

The study found people who ate moderate servings of chocolate– 30g, equivalent to about six squares– appeared to be most protected. The optimal doses were one serving a week for women, and between two and six for men.

While the team stressed that the study was “observational”, and could not prove cause and effect, its results came on the back of -” extensive research” associating chocolate with lower rates of heart complications. “( It) adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” said lead researcher Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiologist with Harvard University’s TH Chan School of Public Health.

Chocolate’s health benefits are thought to derive from “flavonols”, colourless chemicals found in cocoa as well as fruit, vegetables, tea and red wine. Peter Kistler, an AF expert with the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, said they appeared to help open up the blood vessels around the heart.