Eating a small amount of chocolate may decrease your risk of a serious type of irregular heartbeat, according to a new study.
People who ate the sweet treat several times a week were less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AF) – a common condition linked to increased risk of stroke.
Those who consumed two to six servings per week had a 20 percent reduced chance compared to those who ate it less than once a month.
So far, there has only limited research on the association between consuming chocolate and abnormal heart rhythm, which affects 33·5 million people worldwide.
It is the flavanols in cocoa and cocoa-containing foods which are thought to promote healthy blood vessel function.
'We 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,' said lead study author Dr Elizabeth Mostofsky from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Cocoa and cocoa-containing foods which are believed to promote healthy blood vessel function (file photo)
Atrial fibrillation – which causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate – becomes more common as you get older and affects more men than women.
It can cause problems including dizziness, shortness of breath and tiredness. You may be aware of noticeable heart palpitations or sometimes it doesn't cause any symptoms, says NHS Choices.
It is also linked with higher risk of heart failure, cognitive decline, dementia, and death, say the researchers.
Those looking to improve their memory are unlikely to turn to chocolate for help.
But a recent study backs up previous research that says the sugary treat actually boosts memory and helps keep our brains healthy.