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Jun 27, 2017 09:13 AM EDT

Harvard University researchers suggest that "moderate" chocolate intake strengthens the heart. Food lovers could now enjoy a little extra serving of their favorite desserts without feeling guilty.Read on to find out more.

Particularly, chocolates lower the risk of irregular heartbeats. The Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health has worked with Danish scientists to conduct the study. In it, over 55,500 people participated.

Among the respondents, Fortune reported, people who ate two to six servings per week had a 20 percent lower chance of irregular heartbeats. Otherwise known as atrial fibrillation, it is one of the major contributors to stroke and clots.

Meanwhile, people who ate one to three servings per month had a 10 percent lower rate of atrial fibrillation compared with those who ate a one-ounce serving of chocolate less than once per month. Those who had one serving every seven days had a 17 percent lower risk. Moreover, the benefits leveled off slightly with larger amounts of chocolate consumption. In the end, persons eating one or more servings per day have a 16 percent lower rate.

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Do note that the results were similar for men and women. Nevertheless, the authors noted that eating excessive amounts of chocolate is still not recommended. For one, sweets are high in calories that could lead to weight gain and metabolic problems. However, "moderate intake" is certainly a healthy habit.

Per Harvard Gazette, previous research also shows that cocoa confers cardiovascular benefits. Experts believe that the effects of chocolates may be due to the high content of flavanols, which promote healthy blood vessel function. Over the past years, though, there has been a limited study between consuming chocolate and the occurrence of atrial fibrillation.

The Harvard University experts considered the body mass index, blood pressure, and the amount of cholesterol in the bodies of the respondents. The participants were recruited between December 1993 and May 1997. 

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