For many of us, satisfying our sweet tooth with a bit of chocolate is the only way we can make it through a day. But is there more in that bite than we realize?
California-based consumer health advocacy group As You Sow just completed a study revealing that a large amount of the chocolate they tested exposed consumers to toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. In some instances, there was as much as nine times more lead than California law considers safe, and up to seven times the daily recommended exposure to cadmium.
In their research, the group tested samples of chocolate of more than 50 different lines, including those of Hershey, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. They found these above-acceptable lead levels in 35 of them.
The risky relationship between chocolate and toxins has been touched on before. In fact, Consumer Labs recommends people limit their intake of chocolate to one serving a day. “As part of ConsumerLab.com’s tests in 2014 of cocoa powders and dark chocolates for beneficial flavanols, it found that every cocoa powder (excluding those made from extracts) contained high concentrations of cadmium and some were also contaminated with lead. Cadmium and lead concentrations were much lower in dark chocolates, as they also contain cocoa butter and other ingredients,” says Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of ConsumerLab.com. “Since serving sizes of chocolate are much greater for chocolate (about 40 grams) versus cocoa powder (about 5 grams), some chocolates also exceeded limits for cadmium. I would advise people, especially children, to limit cocoa powder intake to not more than one cup of cocoa per day for an adult and not more than twice a week for children. The same holds true for servings of chocolates high in heavy metals,” says Cooperman.
Although it would be convenient to believe heavy metals are harmless just because they are naturally absorbed by plants, this is not true, says Cooperman.
So how do these toxins get in our beloved chocolate?
“We have learned the high levels of cadmium and lead are entering the cocoa beans through their uptake of nutrients through the soil,” says nutritionist Morgan Mellas. “When our bodies take in heavy metals they settle in our bodies and displace other necessary nutrients including zinc, magnesium, copper, vitamin D, and boron, to name a few. These toxic heavy metals can also settle into our joints, brains and organs creating arthritis, kidney disease, depression and other dysfunction leaving our bodies functioning less than optimally and creating pain."
We know this sounds awful but at least they aren't suggesting we elimante all chocolate from our diets. That would cause outrage, especially amongst those that suffer the chronic 3pm energy crash.