6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Heavy Metals in Chocolate

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(ABC 6 News) – Chocolate is a great gift to give and receive during the holiday season.

It’s delicious, but, before you put a bow on that bar, a new Consumer Reports investigation reveals a dark side to some chocolate.

For many of us, chocolate is more than just a tasty treat. It’s a mood lifter, an energy booster, a reward after a tough day, and of course a favorite holiday gift.

When it comes to dark chocolate, add in potential health benefits, like a rich supply of antioxidants.

But it’s not all good news when it comes to chocolate, according to Consumer Reports.

“Our tests found concerning levels of cadmium or lead, two toxic heavy metals, in most of the dark chocolate bars we tested,” says Consumer Reports’ Kevin Loria.

Consumer Reports tested 28 dark chocolate bars. “For 23 of the bars, eating just an ounce a day would put an adult over a level that CR’s experts and public health authorities say may be harmful,” explains Loria.

Consistent, long-term exposure to even small amounts of heavy metals can lead to a variety of health problems, including kidney damage, hypertension, and reproductive issues.

The risks are greater for kids, “in young children, the metals can cause developmental problems, affect brain development, and lead to lower IQ,” Loria says.

In response to CR, several of the manufacturers whose chocolates had higher levels of heavy metals said that heavy metals occur naturally in soil, and they take steps to try to reduce it.

So how can a chocolate lover safely satisfy their sweet tooth?

CR’s tests found that cadmium levels tend to increase with higher cacao percentages, so if you’re craving dark chocolate go for a 55% than say an 85% one.

Also, if you eat dark chocolate everyday, you may want to cut back to maybe just an ounce serving a couple times a week instead.

Also, don’t just assume organic is better either. CR’s tests found that organic dark chocolate was just as likely to have concerning levels of heavy metals as other products.