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Dark-Chocolate-Health-Benefits

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Question:
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?

Answer:
Dark chocolate is associated improved cardiovascular health (by improving blood flow and cholesterol levels), increased exercise endurance, decreased fasting blood sugar levels and improved insulin resistance, and improved memory and cognition. Relative to milk chocolate, dark chocolate may result in better visual acuity as well as decreased appetite. Each of these potential health benefits are described in detail in the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolates Review. The evidence for some benefits is stronger than others, as some have been demonstrated in a clinical trial, while others are based on associations made in studies of populations that consume dark chocolate. 

These potential effects are likely due to the cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate. Cocoa flavanols may have a mild, beneficial effect on facial wrinkles and skin elasticity in older women, but there do not yet appear to be studies specifically on the effects of consuming dark chocolate bars on skin.

Keep in mind that in addition to healthful flavanols, dark chocolate bars can contain significant amounts sugar and fat, and therefore, calories. When choosing a dark chocolate bar, sure to check our chart showing the amounts of flavanols and calories in popular dark chocolate bars, and see our Top Picks.

Learn more about dark chocolate and cocoa powder and supplements:



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COMMENTS

Wayne17235   October 11, 2018
In the product report at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Cocoa_Powders_and_Chocolates_Sources_of_Flavanols/cocoa-flavanols/#chocolate-bar-chart the cadmium/flavanol ratio in cocoa powder is generally higher than in the chocolates. If it is not introduced during the extraction of cocoa, this makes no sense since the flavanol is only in the cocoa. I do not see any comment on this in the above mentioned report. Please offer some explanation or speculation as to why this is seen.

ConsumerLab.com   October 11, 2018
Hi Wayne - The chart you linked to actually shows calories to get 200 mg of flavanols. It does not relate to cadmium. However, the reason why there is a greater concentration of cadmium in cocoa powders than in dark chocolates is explained in our answer at https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/why-is-there-so-much-cadmium-in-cocoa-powders-but-not-in-dark-chocolate/cadmium_in_dark_chocolate/. In short, cadmium is primarily in the cocoa solids, and cocoa powder is, essentially, cocoa solids, while chocolate includes other ingredients, such as cocoa butter and sugar that normally have little cadmium.

Wayne17247   October 17, 2018
The link I cited shows flavinol mg/g and cadmium mg/g on the same chart so cadmium/flavinol is readily seen. The link you give confirms my observation when it says " In fact, on average you ingest about 4 times as much cadmium from cocoa powder as you do as from dark chocolate to get an equivalent amount of flavanols." and gives some possible reasons.

ConsumerLab.com   October 25, 2018
Hi Wayne - Just to clarify: The chart that you are referring to shows mcg (micrograms) of cadmium but mg (milligrams) of flavanols -- a 1,000 fold difference in units. Cadmium is toxic in very small (microgram) amounts, like many other heavy metals. The link for the chart is https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/Cocoa_Powders_and_Chocolates_Sources_of_Flavanols/cocoa-flavanols/#flavanol-chart. Nevertheless, you are correct that the concentration of cadmium in cocoa powders can be easily be 4x the concentration in dark chocolates, depending on the specific products compared. A couple of popular dark chocolates, however, had unusually high concentrations of cadmium -- 0.5 to 0.7 mcg per gram, which was about the average concentration in cocoa powders; and two cocoa powders had as much as 1.8 and 2.2 mcg of cadmium per gram - extremely high concentrations!

Linda17063   August 9, 2018
After reading about the the high cadmium content for a serving of Trader Joe's 85% Dark Chocolate I am very concerned because I have been eating that amount daily for at least 8 years. I understand there are also other foods that contain cadmium too. Cadmium is very bad for the kidneys and I already have health issues from oxalate in foods causing kidney stones. Is there a safe and affordable way for people like me to get rid of this highly toxic metal from their bodies?

Robert16981   July 30, 2018
It's great that you test for the amount of flavanols in dark chocolate. Any chance you could test Alter Eco Super Blackout? It's 90% with very low sugar.
I'm just a consumer--have nothing to do with the company or any other company.
thanks
Robert


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This CL Answer initially posted on 7/28/2018.
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