God bless Harvard and its scientists over there doing science-y things, because a new study from the university says that eating chocolate regularly can be good for your heart. Namely, it may lower the odds of developing a dangerous heart condition called atrial fibrillation, or AFib.
We already know that eating dark chocolate every now and then can have cardiovascular benefits, but there hasn't been a lot of research done on the treat's direct correlation to AFib, until now.
AFib is a heart condition where a patient has an irregular heartbeat, and has been linked with a higher risk for stroke and heart failure. Many people with AFib describe it as a fluttering sensation where a regular heartbeat would otherwise be.
Elizabeth Mostofsky, an epidemiology instructor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and author of the study, analyzed an expansive database of Danish men and women, looking specifically at their dietary habits and health conditions. Of the 55,502 people in their original database, 3,346 of them had cases of AFib diagnosed during the first 13.5 years of the study.
So, where does chocolate come into the mix? The researchers found that AFib risk was significantly lower when people ate chocolate semi-regularly. The risk was 17 percent lower for people who ate 1 serving of chocolate per week, and 20 percent lower for people who ate 2 to 6 servings per week. So basically, you can have a piece of chocolate every day and it could help to keep your heart healthy!
"What we're saying here is that moderate chocolate consumption may be part of a healthy diet," Mostofsky told CBS News.
Obviously, a lot more research needs to be done surrounding the relationship between the sweet and AFib, and the study didn't look at which specific type of chocolate each participant consumed. Mostofsky did point out, though, that the darker the chocolate, the more flavanols it has -- an antioxidant that has been known to promote healthy blood vessel function.
"This is not carte blanche to eat large amounts of chocolate," said Mostofsky. "Moderate amounts of dark chocolate as part of a healthy diet would be a good choice."