Dark chocolate contains two heavy metals, a new study shows

Photo (c) Dmytro Skrypnykov - Getty Images

The candy may not be as healthy as its advocates claim

Memo to Santa – if you plan to stuff stockings with dark chocolate this year you might be advised to choose another candy. Despite previous studies, dark chocolate might not be so healthy.

Researchers at Consumer Reports (CR) report finding cadmium and lead, two heavy metals, in the dark chocolate bars they tested. Consuming just small amounts of those metals on a regular basis could lead to health problems in both children and adults.

So how much cadmium and lead are we talking about? The researchers conclude that eating just an ounce of dark chocolate daily would put an adult over the healthy limit.

The researchers also say that if you eat dark chocolate, the heavy metals are almost impossible to avoid. The research team tested 28 brands of dark chocolate bars. They found cadmium and lead in all 28.

Tunde Akinleye, the CR food safety researcher who led the project, says over-exposure to heavy metals can have negative health effects for people of all ages. He says it can lead to high blood pressure, immune system suppression and kidney damage, as well as other health conditions.

But who eats dark chocolate every day? You might be surprised. Consumer Reports cites data from Mintel suggesting that 15% of people who snack on dark chocolate do it every day.

Five brands with the least amount

But not to be a complete holiday buzzkill, the CR researchers did find five brands of dark chocolate with low levels of the metals. They are:

  • Mast Organic Dark Chocolate

  • Taza Organic Dark Chocolate

  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate

  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight

  • Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate

For years studies have heralded the positive health effects of dark chocolate. The candy is rich in antioxidants and has less sugar than other candies. 

Find a Walk-in Tub partner near you.