The Link Between Chocolate and Heart Health

Of course everyone loves to eat chocolate because it is delicious, but did you know that is has many health benefits as well? It can increase your energy and libido level and has also helped cases of diarrhea, syphilis, migraines, and even cancer.

Consider this, the catechins found in dark chocolate are antioxidants that were found to reduce lung cancer rates and rectal cancer. Studies have shown that people who consume cocoa up to three times a month were about 10% less likely to develop AFib, which is the medical term for irregular heart beat.

Research has shown a reduced risk of AFib for women who ate just one serving of chocolate each week, while men should aim for two to six servings. Consuming cocoa and foods containing it can help your heart healthy because of its potent antioxidants, inflammation-fighting characteristics, and blood vessel-relaxing flavanols.

Flavanols are a type of polyphenols that are found in tea, red grapes, wine, and chocolate, which are all powerful antioxidants. Previous studies have shown that dark chocolate, specifically, contains the most flavanols to give health advantages, including the reduction of inflammation. Flavanols can also prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.

Because of this, eating dark chocolate on a regular basis is associated with a decreased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular failure, cognitive impairment, and early death. But are scientists convinced that it is actually the chocolate that prevents atrial fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation: Studies, Symptoms and Risks

Over 2.5 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, and 33 million suffer from it worldwide. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of blood clots, which can result in strokes, cognitive impairment, and heart failure

Studies show that about 25% of adults are projected to have atrial fibrillation in their lifetime. Studies provided information that showed the dietary habits of adults between 1993 and 1997. This data was then linked to national health registries to see who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Findings showed that 3,346 of the cases occurred over this period of time.

Based on their diets, people who ate about 1 ounce of chocolate each week were 17% less likely to develop atrial fibrillation by the close of the study than those who reported consuming chocolate less than once a month.

Factors to Consider

In previous studies, researchers did not consider factors such as sleep apnea or kidney disease, which can also influence atrial fibrillation. They also did not note if their subject ate dark or milk chocolate. As a result, the amount of flavanols connected to the chocolate they ate is variable.

The data does suggest that people who consumed more chocolate also ate more calories, but had a lower BMI than those who ate the least amount of chocolate.

Because of this, a double-blind randomized controlled trial should be performed to evaluate the real efficacy of chocolate for preventing atrial fibrillation. This would require using quantified doses of cocoa.

Does the Type of Chocolate Matter?

Some types of chocolate are more healthy to consume than others. It?s true that chocolate often contains large amounts of sugar and fats that can contribute to chronic disease.

However, dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids. So while milk and white chocolates may be more harmful than helpful, chocolate with more cocoa can be more beneficial to your health.

This doesn’t mean that people can eat as much chocolate as they want. It only suggests that chocolate lovers stick to eating a 1-ounce piece of chocolate each day. Even though there is a substantial link between consuming chocolate and a lowering one’s risk of AFib, eating too much chocolate is not recommended due to the high-calorie content from sugar and fat which can lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems.

What to Look for in Chocolate

Make sure your chocolate doesn?t have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that can cause serious chronic neurological disorders. Also make sure that the chocolate you are eating contains flavonoids.

Make sure to read the labels to determine the amount of grams of carbohydrates, subtracting the dietary fiber, and sugar alcohol to find the net carbs.

Moderate intake of chocolate that has a high cocoa content can be a healthy choice, which has led scientists to wonder if creating a chocolate pill would be beneficial to people’s heart health.

The best way to get the health benefits from chocolate is to eat raw cacao butter or raw cacao nibs.

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