A new Harvard study has found that eating chocolate helps prevent atrial fibrillation (AF). This is a common—and dangerous—condition in which the heart beats irregularly.
A quarter of Americans will develop AF at some point in their lives. It can lead to a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and blood clots.
Researchers tracked more than 55,000 people for over 13 years. During that time, about 3,300 of the subjects developed atrial fibrillation (AF).1 2
The researchers concluded that chocolate consumption greatly reduced the chances of developing the condition. They found:
- People who ate two to six one-ounce servings of chocolate a week had a 20% lower risk of developing AF.
- Those who ate one serving a week had 17% less risk.
- Even those who ate only one serving a month had a 10% lower risk.
The study was published recently in the journal Heart.
Dr. Elizabeth Mostofsky is an epidemiology instructor at the Harvard School of Public Health. She led the research. “Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake,” she said.3
The researchers said that the cocoa in chocolate contains high levels of flavanols. These are antioxidant compounds that benefit the heart.
Choose the Healthiest Chocolate
When it comes to chocolate, more is not better. The study found that eating chocolate more than six days a week actually reduces the AF-fighting effects.
Dr. Mostofsky warned: “Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar . . . and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems.”
She recommended “moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content.” This means dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa content, the better.
Look from brands that are at least 70% cocoa (some brands use the term “cacao”).4
You’ll also want to get chocolate that is as clean as possible. Many products contain lead and/or cadmium.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin. It has been linked to lower IQs, learning disabilities, and seizures. Cadmium is also a powerful poison. It can damage the kidneys, bones, and liver.
A recent analysis by the consumer advocacy group As You Sow found 45 chocolate products that contained lead or cadmium.5
- Cadbury Royal Dark
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Twilight Delight
- Godiva 85% Cacao Extra Dark
- Hershey Dagoba Dark Chocolate
- Hershey Scharffen Berger Extra Dark
- Kraft Cote D’Or 86% Noir Brut Belgian
- Lindt Excellence
- Mars Dove Dark Chocolate Eggs
- Newman’s Own Super Dark Chocolate
- Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate
- Whole Foods 72% Cacao
These dark chocolate products had no lead or cadmium:
- DeMet’s Flipz 50% Cacao Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels
- Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie
- Jo’s Candies Dark Chocolate Covered Graham Crackers
- Lindt Excellence A Touch of Sea Salt
- Starbuck’s Dark Chocolate Covered Grahams
We recommend two of these candies, Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie and Lindt Excellence A Touch of Salt.6
Not only are they free of lead and cadmium, but they contain no carb-heavy pretzels or graham crackers… Just pure health-boosting dark chocolate.
If you’re worried about your heart, there’s one other thing you should know… There’s a little-known test that detects heart disease quicker than the ones used in every doctor’s office across the country. Get all the details HERE.