Chocolate may reduce risk of irregular heartbeat

Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of antioxidants called flavonoids

NEW YORK (CNN) – Almost everybody loves chocolate.

The sweet treat usually brings up thoughts of love… or pleasure. A new study has shown that the cocoa in chocolate can be good for you but that doesn’t mean you need to eat it all day.

A large study out of Denmark has found another reason to eat chocolate.

Researchers tracked more than 55,000 people aged 50-to-64, and found that chocolate eaters had a reduced risk of atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat. And the risk went down the more often chocolate was consumed.

Those who ate chocolate a couple of times a month had a 10% lower risk for irregular heartbeat. People who ate one serving a week had a 17% lower risk. And those who had a two to six servings a week lowered their risk of atrial fibrillation by 20%.

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However, researchers point out that these serving sizes were small, no more than one ounce. They also stress that it is the cocoa that provides the benefits. Cocoa contains antioxidants called flavonoids.

However, depending on how it is processed, chocolate can have varying levels of flavonoid compounds.Some chemical processes can remove essentially all traces.

Dark chocolate, which is at least 70% cocoa, contains the highest amount of flavonoids.

Milk chocolate contains the lowest and also has more dairy and sugar, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

So, enjoy chocolate, especially dark chocolate but, like anything else, enjoy it in moderation.