Love to gorge on chocolates? According to a research, consuming up to six bars of chocolate a week may lower the risk of developing a common and dangerous type of irregular heartbeat linked with higher risk of stroke, heart failure, cognitive decline, dementia, and death by 20 per cent.
Atrial fibrillation also known as heart flutter affects more than 33 million people worldwide, with one in four adults likely to develop it at some point during the life course.
The study showed that men and women who ate one to three servings per month had a 10 per cent lower rate of atrial fibrillation.
While those who ate one serving per week had a 17 per cent lower rate, on the other hand those who ate two to six servings per week had a 20 per cent lower rate.
"Our study adds to the accumulating evidence on the health benefits of moderate chocolate intake and highlights the importance of behavioural factors for potentially lowering the risk of arrhythmias," said lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky, from Harvard Chan School in the United States.
"Despite the fact that most of the chocolate consumed by the study participants likely had relatively low concentrations of potentially protective ingredients, we still observed a significant association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of atrial fibrillation - suggesting that even small amounts of cocoa consumption can have a positive health impact," she added.
For the study, published in the journal Heart, the team included 55,502 (26,400 men and 29,100 women) participants, aged between 50 and 64.
"Eating excessive amounts of chocolate is not recommended because many chocolate products are high in calories from sugar and fat and could lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems. But moderate intake of chocolate with high cocoa content may be a healthy choice," Mostofsky noted.