Is There Lead in Your Chocolate?

In All Health Watch, Diet and Nutrition, Featured Article

Recent studies show dark chocolate can boost health in many ways.

It raises athletic performance. It helps with weight loss. It makes your heart healthier.1 It’s even been shown to help prevent sunburn.2

But a new analysis reveals a dark side to some kinds of chocolate. They contain lead, a potent neurotoxin.3

As You Sow is a consumer advocacy group. It analyzed 50 chocolate products. It looked at both dark and milk chocolate brands. Thirty-five dark chocolate brands were found to contain either lead or cadmium. No milk chocolate tested positive.

The group did not divulge how much of the heavy metals were found in each brand of dark chocolate. But it says at least one brand had lead levels at nine times the amount California considers safe to avoid reproductive harm. The group found cadmium up to seven times the state’s maximum daily exposure limit. It says it wants to work with chocolate companies to remove the toxins.

The chocolate makers say there are only trace amounts in their products and that it’s naturally occurring. They say the cacao plant used to make chocolate naturally absorbs some lead.

The problem is that there is no safe level for lead. Even small amounts are harmful to the brain.

Lead is linked to lower IQs, learning disabilities, and seizures. Children are especially vulnerable. The problem was highlighted in the recent Flint, Michigan, water contamination disaster.

Cadmium is also a powerful poison. It can damage the kidneys, bones, and liver.

Both these metals can get into foods through chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Are You Eating Toxic Chocolate?

Here are popular brands of dark chocolate found to contain lead and/or cadmium:

  • 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

Safe Chocolate Choices

Here are dark chocolate products found to contain 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 products, the Ghirardelli Midnight Reverie and the Lindt Excellence A Touch of Salt. Not only are they without lead and cadmium, but they contain no carb-heavy pretzels or graham crackers… Just pure health-boosting dark chocolate.

In Good Health,

Angela Salerno
Executive Director, INH Health Watch

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