Science has given us one more reason to eat chocolate. A new study suggests that eating a small amount of chocolate each week may reduce your risk of developing a common heartbeat problem called atrial fibrillation, commonly known as A-fib.

A New Study

Pirooz Mofrad, MD, director of the Electrophysiology Lab at Washington Adventist Hospital

Researchers from Harvard University in Boston looked at the diet of 55,000 adults in Denmark over four years. They followed up with the participants over 13.5 years and found that eating between 2 to 6 ounces of chocolate each week was associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of developing A-fib.

This is sweet news because more than 2.7 million people in the U.S. are living with A-fib, a heart rhythm disorder that causes an irregular heart beat. While there are advanced treatments available for A-fib, people with the disorder are five times more likely to have a stroke.

“We have known for some time now that chocolate consumption appears to lower cardiovascular risk — in part because it reduces blood pressure and inflammation while improving the functionality of the vascular system and blood cells called platelets,” said Pirooz Mofrad, MD, an electrophysiologist and director of the Electrophysiology Lab at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. He treats heart rhythm disorders like A-fib.

Everything in Moderation

“This study helps reaffirm that a little chocolate in small to moderate portions can benefit the heart in multiple fashions — both in blood pressure, antioxidant effect and now arrhythmia burden. We must all keep in mind that only a small to moderate portion is recommended,” he adds.

In fact, the study showed that participants who ate more than 1 ounce of chocolate per day actually saw less heart health benefits due to eating more calories and sugar and causing weight gain — which strains the heart.

“So as in everything in life, especially your diet, moderation is the key,” said Dr. Mofrad.

Heart Rhythm Disorder Signs

Dr. Mofrad says to lookout for these signs of a heart rhythm disorder.

  • Chest discomfort
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to exercise
  • Lightheadedness
  • Palpitations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath

Call 911 if you experience any of these symptoms.