Chocolate is one of America’s favorite treats. In fact, we buy about $22 billion worth of chocolate every year as a country. Good news for us, Harvard researchers found more evidence that chocolate can benefit heart health.
Previous studies have shown that dark chocolate that had over 60% cocoa contained antioxidants and polyphenols that keep your heart healthy and reduces inflammation. Some critics opposed these findings and said people should not rely heavily on them.
However, researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health conducted a new study with more than 55,000 people to see if chocolate truly had heart health benefits.
They found that people who ate 2-6 servings of chocolate per week had a 20% lower chances of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeats), which is a key contributor to strokes, clots, and heart failure. People who had a somewhat lower, regular chocolate consumptions had similar results as well.
While the correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation, the lead author of the study, Elizabeth Mostofsky, said, “Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioral factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias.”
Dr. Mostofsky continued, saying, “Despite the fact that most of the chocolate consumed by the study participants likely had relatively low concentrations of potentially protective ingredients, we still observed a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of atrial fibrillation — suggesting that even small amounts of cocoa consumption can have a positive health impact.”
Harvard’s research proved more evidence that chocolate can benefit heart health. However, before you run and eat tons of chocolate, it’s only healthy in moderation.
The study showed that people eating 2-6 servings had the best results, which means that they ate about a square of chocolate a day. Eating more than that can lead to heart problems instead of preventing them.
The authors of the study added, “Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar and fat and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems. But moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content may be a healthy choice.”
So eat responsibly and enjoy the added benefits of chocolate besides the taste!