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22 Apr 2024, Edition - 3205, Monday

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Health Matters

Eating Chocolate May Be Good Your Heart. Here’s How



Here’s some respite for all the chocolate lovers. According to a new study, published in the journal Heart, chocolate may be good for your heart. Picture this: Somebody asks you to eat chocolates because they are healthy! Surprising, won’t it be? Who doesn’t love chocolates? But we’re often guilty of gorging on the bar of silky, smooth treat fearing weight gain and consumption of excess sugar. Not anymore! A team of researchers from Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Duke University Medical Centre have found that moderate consumption of chocolate may be linked to a lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF). Read on to know how chocolates will lower the risk of heart flutter.

Atrial fibrillation refers to an irregular heart rhythm, often characterized by rapid heart rate and can cause poor blood flow that can lead to stroke, brain failure and can even become fatal if untreated. The most common symptoms of atrial fibrillation include heart palpitations, fatigue and shortness of breath or breathlessness. In the last few years, chocolates, especially the dark variety, has earned some praises due to the presence of antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols that make it heart-friendly. For the study, the team analysed data from more than 55,000 participants, aged between 50 and 64, from the population-based Danish Diet, Cancer and Health Study. The participants were allowed to consumption a certain amount of chocolate every week where one serving was classified as 30 grams. They were not asked to specify which type of chocolate they ate.At the start of the trial, all information on heart disease risk factors, diet, and lifestyle was obtained from the participants.

Their health was monitored with the help of the national registry data on episodes of hospital treatment and deaths during the period of 13 years. It was noted that 3346 new cases of atrial fibrillation were diagnosed.

The results showed that the rate of AF was lower for people who consumed chocolate regularly, when compared with individuals whose chocolate intake was less than one 30 gram serving per month. The results were similar for men and women but the amount of chocolate consumed varied. The positive impact was the strongest when women consumed one weekly serving of chocolate and when men consumed two to six servings of chocolate.

It was seen that the newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation rate was 10 per cent lower for 1-3 servings of chocolate in a month after taking into consideration all factors of heart disease. Further, the risk of AF was 17 per cent lower when one weekly serving of chocolate was consumed, 20 per cent lower for two to six weekly servings and 14 per cent lower for one or more daily servings. While the team could not confirm the real cause of the association, they do suggest that dark chocolate can be a healthy snacking option.

Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is now being regarded as the new superfood. Raw, processed cocoa beans have exceptionally high antioxidant properties and dark chocolate comes really close it. Dark chocolate is made from raw cocoa beans which are a rich source of antioxidants like flavanols. These flavanols impart the bitter taste to dark chocolate and not just that, they work against the free radicals in the body which can cause disease.Dark chocolate also has high concentration of an alkaloid called theobromine which has stimulant properties and relaxing effects. It can dilate the blood vessels and lower your blood pressure. And it this wasn’t enough, dark chocolate is also good for your brain. Another 2013 study published in the journal Neurology found that eating dark chocolate daily (in moderate amounts) can boost your memory by almost 30% and also up your problem solving skills.

Lastly, if you’re worried about your weight, you shouldn’t be! Dark chocolate has a high satiety value and therefore, it curbs cravings. It is also rich in MUFA’S (monounsaturated fatty acids) that are known to boost your metabolism and burn fat.

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