Last month, several large consumer testing outlets reported the results of their batch testing of several brands of dark chocolate and cocoa [including popular names like Ghirardelli, Hershey’s, Lindt and more].
Shockingly, the testing agencies compared the products’ heavy metal content against California Proposition 65 standards and found that most of the brands tested profoundly exceeded California’s acceptable standards for lead and cadmium.
Here’s what you need to know from their testing:
- 30+ brands of dark chocolate and cocoa products were tested for contamination with heavy metals, including lead and cadmium
What makes this significant?
- high blood lead and cadmium levels are associated with cognitive impairment and infertility
- however, heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, aluminum, arsenic, mercury, and chromium occur naturally in the environment
- most human heavy metal exposure arises from industrial activities that introduce the metals into soil and water supplies. Over time, these metals accumulate in the environment and often find their way into many foods, including fish, meat, fruits, vegetables, tea, spices, processed baked goods, and others.
So, should you stop eating chocolate?
- in light of the possible risks associated with heavy metal exposure in chocolate and cocoa, it seems prudent to exercise caution when consuming chocolate products, limiting daily consumption and choosing brands with lower heavy metal content
- according to the report, Mast, Taza, Ghirardelli, and Valrhona chocolate brands were safer choices
Other considerations as you navigate this chocolate debacle:
- leafy greens – such as spinach, kale, and chard – are laden with various heavy metals [including aluminum and lead] but are generally considered good for you, providing tremendous benefits for cognition, cardiovascular function, and aging
- there’s no indication that people who regularly eat foods rich in heavy metals exhibit greater bioaccumulation of heavy metals – in fact, vegetarians appear to have lower blood levels of heavy metals than omnivores
- That said, the levels of lead and cadmium in the tested chocolate products were particularly high, with just one serving – an ounce – of most brands exceeding acceptable upper limits
Lifestyle factors influence heavy metal excretion.
- helping the body rid itself of heavy metals can make a significant difference in how the affect your health
- heavy metals are excreted in sweat, so working up a good sweat during exercise or sauna use may facilitate their excretion
- in a study where researchers measured the presence of various compounds [including heavy metals] in the blood, urine, and sweat; they observed markedly higher excretion of aluminum [3.75-fold], cadmium [25-fold], cobalt [7-fold], and lead [17-fold] in sweat versus that in urine
My conclusion + advice [for now]:
- remain cautious when consuming chocolate that has been found to contain the highest levels of heavy metals – opt for the safer brands
- focus on the elimination of certain heavy metals from the body can be enhanced by lifestyle behaviors such as sauna use and working out, which enhances excretion through sweat
- whether the amount of heavy metals found in a serving of dark chocolate is cause for concern – especially for vulnerable groups, like children and pregnant women – is unclear