Dark chocolate enthusiasts should be sure to recheck the safety of their favorite brands as a study finds heavy metals in their content.

For many dark chocolate fans, the bitter treat is more than just a guilty pleasure. It serves as a mood enhancer, an energy booster, a reward after a challenging day, or a widely appreciated holiday present.

People also choose dark chocolate for its potential health benefits, thanks to studies that suggest its rich supply of antioxidants may improve heart health and other conditions and for its relatively low sugar levels.

However, this “healthier” chocolate has a potential negative side as well. Research has found at least two heavy metals linked to a host of health problems in children and adults.

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Study Finds Heavy Metals in Dark Chocolate

According to Consumer Reports, harmful heavy metals have been found in dark chocolate from well-known brands like Hershey’s, Theo, Trader Joe’s, and others.

While there are numerous benefits associated with dark chocolate, including the fact that it has more fiber and less sugar than milk chocolate, these very benefits can also be harmful. 

Food Safety Network reports that the percentages of cacao, or cocoa, in dark chocolate are listed on the packaging as indicators of which brands or subbrands are healthier. Meanwhile, larger percentages correspond to more alleged health advantages.

A recent analysis has found that consuming 1 ounce of 23 of the chocolate bars examined each day would put an adult over the level experts regarded potentially dangerous for at least one of the heavy metals.

The study has found that five of the chocolate bars tested had lead and cadmium levels exceeding those limits, including these brands:

  • Theo Organic Pure Dark 70% Cocoa
  • Theo Organic Extra Dark Pure Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa
  • Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate 85% Cacao
  • Lily’s Extremely Dark Chocolate 85% Cocoa
  • Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao

As of now, none of the chocolate brands have given any comment on the study results.

It is widely established that heavy metals, particularly lead, can have major negative effects on the health of all people. However, this is especially true for children who are more vulnerable to developmental disorders, brain damage, lower IQs, and other problems, as well as other issues. Thus, Lead has long been prohibited in paint and plumbing due to these factors.

Alternative Dark Chocolate Brands

Fortunately, Today reports that the study has also found a positive outcome of the investigation, as researchers have found five chocolate products that were considered safer alternatives, including:

  • Mast Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cocoa
  • Taza Chocolate Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cacao
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight 72% Cacao
  • Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao

“Manufacturers can make dark chocolate with lower amounts of heavy metals,” According to James Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. “It may not be easy, but there are some things we believe manufacturers can do.”

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