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Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements

Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

See CL's picks for best dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cacao nib, and cocoa supplement based on independent tests for cocoa flavanols and contaminants. Find out which ones passed or failed our review and learn the cardiovascular, memory, blood sugar, and skin effects of flavanols.

Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review

CL Answers (30)

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Recalls & Warnings (78)

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Clinical Updates (38)

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7/05/2017

Dark Chocolate & Appetite

A recent study found that women consumed fewer calories after eating dark chocolate than after eating milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate also resulted in better blood sugar control — an effect noted in other studies of moderate consumption of dark chocolate. Get the details on this and other effects of dark chocolate in the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review, which includes our tests and comparisons of popular products.
3/29/2016

Chocolate May Help Exercise

In a tasty new study, men who ate dark chocolate for several days were able to cycle somewhat further than those given a placebo (white chocolate), possibly due to the flavanols in dark chocolate -- which also appear to provide cardiovascular benefit. For details about the study and the chocolate, and ConsumerLab's tests and reviews of dark chocolates and other cocoa-based products, see the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
7/05/2014

Dark Chocolate Improves Walking in Peripheral Artery Disease

A new, small study found that people with peripheral artery disease who consumed dark chocolate with a high cocoa content were able to walk further than they normally could. Consuming milk chocolate did not have this effect. The improvement was seen shortly after consuming just one dose. For more details, including dosage, as well as our tests and comparisons of cocoa supplements and chocolate, see the update to the Cocoa Powders, Extracts and Chocolate (Sources of Flavanols) Review >>   
9/25/2021

Dark Chocolate for Mood?

A recent study investigated the effects of consuming dark chocolate on mood. The effect depended on cocoa level. See the results in the Mood and Stress section of our Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks among dark chocolate bars and cocoa products.
11/22/2020

Chocolate for Cognition?

Does eating chocolate improve cognition in postmenopausal women? See what a new study found in the Memory and Cognition section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, cocoa powders and supplements based on their flavanol content and purity.
8/06/2020

Chocolate and Cancer

Can eating more chocolate reduce cancer risk? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, chocolate chips and cocoa powders.
12/18/2018

Chocolate and Platelet Function?

A recent study found that eating dark chocolate affected a measure of platelet function. How important is this? Get the details in the Cardiovascular section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review. (Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate).
8/11/2020

Chocolate to Improve Body Composition?

Can eating a small amount of chocolate every day help improve body composition? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, chocolate chips and cocoa powders.
4/15/2017

Chocolate May Reduce Diabetes Risk

"Occasional" consumption of chocolate was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes among certain postmenopausal women, according to new study. For details about this and other effects of chocolate, see the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >>
5/30/2017

Heart Risk Lower with Chocolate

Eating chocolate is associated with a reduced risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to a large, long-term study. Atrial fibrillation is associated with higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other serious problems. Details about this and other benefits of chocolate are found in the "What It Does" section of the Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review, which includes our findings for the flavanol content and contamination levels of popular products.
11/08/2017

Dark Chocolate for Memory

Short-term studies suggest that large doses of cocoa flavanols improve certain aspects of memory and cognition. A new study suggests that long-term habitual intake of dark chocolate, which is rich in flavanols, can also help. For more information, see the "What It Does" section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review >> [Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate bars in the Review.]
8/28/2018

Chocolate for the Heart?

Studies suggest cardiovascular benefits from daily intake of cocoa flavanols, as found in dark chocolate. However, a new study, focusing on heart failure, suggests more limited intake. Get the details and our analysis in the Cardiovascular section of the Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, and Nibs Review. (Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, cocoa powders, and more.)
4/05/2020

Dark Chocolate for Memory?

Studies show that chocolate high in flavanols can improve cognition in people with cognitive decline. Can it also boost memory in people who are cognitively healthy? Find out in the Memory section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolates and cocoa powders.
4/29/2018

Dark vs. Milk Chocolate for Vision?

A recent study compared the effects on visual acuity of eating a bar of dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. Find out which was better in the Vision section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa Powders, and Cacao Nibs Review. (Also see our product tests, comparisons, and Top Picks.)
9/28/2019

Dark Chocolate for Vision Improvement?

Does consuming flavanol-rich dark chocolate improve visual acuity? See what a recent study found in the Vision section of the Cocoas and Dark Chocolates Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and nibs.
6/11/2019

Does Dark Chocolate Improve Mood?

A recent study evaluated whether eating dark chocolate improved mood and reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. See the results in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks among products.
12/13/2016

Cocoa for High Blood Pressure?

A new study in which people with mild hypertension were given a cocoa beverage and dark chocolate daily for eight weeks found that it only helped lower blood pressure when people were taking certain blood pressure-lowering medications. For more details about this and other studies with cocoa and dark chocolate, as well as our tests and comparisons of products, see the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
9/10/2014

Lead in Dark Chocolate

Our recent tests of cocoa-based products found problems with many popular brands of cocoa powders, which were high in cadmium and/or lead. No problem was found, however, with a widely-sold dark chocolate bar, which also had a good amount of potentially beneficial flavanols. A new report by academic researchers in Brazil shows that some dark chocolate bars do contain lead in excess of what the FDA permits (although brands were not identified.) More about this, as well as our test results for 15 cocoa products, is found in updated Review of Cocoa/Cacao Powders, Extracts, Nibs, Supplements, and Chocolate >> 
6/11/2014

Cocoa May Worsen Acne

Unlike the study we reported last week showing potential help for acne from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements, a new study found that giving pure cocoa to men ages 18 to 35 had the opposite effect -- overall, more pimples. Get the details, along with our tests and comparisons of cocoa and chocolate products, in the update to the Cocoa Powders, Extracts and Chocolate Review >> 
9/12/2018

Cocoa and Cholesterol

Can cocoa flavanols improve cholesterol levels? See what a recent study found in the Cardiovascular section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among cocoa and dark chocolate products.)
7/31/2019

Dark Chocolate & Depression?

Are people who consume dark chocolate less likely to be depressed? Find out what a recent study showed in the Mood and Stress section of the Dark Chocolates and Cocoa Powders Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolates and cocoa powders.
6/20/2018

Intestinal Benefit of Cocoa?

Cocoa flavanols may support intestinal health, according to an animal study with a cocoa powder that acted like a prebiotic. Get the details in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among cocoa and dark chocolate products.)
10/03/2020

Undeclared Milk in Dark Chocolates

If you're allergic to milk, be aware that about 10% of "dairy free" dark chocolate bars and chips were recently found to contain milk. Learn more in the Concerns and Cautions section of our Dark Chocolates Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate.
6/28/2017

Some Concern About Theobromine in Dark Chocolate

ConsumerLab's tests of dark chocolates show them to contain about as much theobromine (a caffeine-related stimulant) as heart-healthy flavanols. So is all this theobromine good or bad? A recent study suggests that it may be an issue for people who need to control their blood sugar, while, on the positive side, it lowers LDL "bad" cholesterol. Get the details in the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review, which includes comparisons of the amounts of theobromine in popular products, as well as amounts of flavanols, caffeine, and contaminants.
1/11/2015

More Cocoa Benefits

A recently published study showed that hot cocoa made with a flavanol-enriched powder resulted in improvements in cognitive performance as well as reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved glucose metabolism. The study was conducted in people ages 65 to 80 who drank the cocoa each morning. More details, as well as our tests of cocoa powders, are found in the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >> 
6/10/2015

Cocoa for Memory

Cocoa flavanols have been shown in some studies to provide a cardiovascular benefit and, in older individuals, memory improvement. A recent study in younger men and women showed that daily use of a cocoa extract had little effect on memory and no cardiovascular benefit, although it did improve mental fatigue shortly after taking the extract. Learn more about the effects of cocoa, dosage, and see our tests and reviews of cocoa products in the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >> 
7/26/2015

Does Cocoa Benefit Some More Than Others?

A recent study of natural cocoa taken daily showed potential cardiovascular benefits -- but they seemed greater for some people than others. See the details in the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >>
8/19/2015

Cocoa Increases Blood Flow to Brain

A small study found that drinking a cocoa drink high in flavanols significantly increased blood flow to the brain, which, the researchers propose, might have potential cognitive benefits. Get the details, including dosage, plus more about cocoa and memory, and our tests of popular products, in the Cocoa Supplements and Dark Chocolate Review >>
9/12/2015

Cardiovascular Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols

A drink rich in cocoa flavanols modestly improved certain measures of cardiovascular health in healthy, middle-aged men and women, according to a recent study. Get the details, including dosage, plus our tests of popular products, in the Review of Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements >>
11/11/2015

Cocoa Flavanol Safety

A new study found that, even at high doses, cocoa flavanols did not cause adverse cardiovascular effects in healthy men and women. However, be aware that drug interactions and certain side effects can occur. Details are provided in the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
11/24/2015

Cocoa for Wrinkles?

A study in older women found that drinking a high-flavanol cocoa drink each day increased skin elasticity. And while wrinkles deepened among those drinking a placebo, they stayed stable in the cocoa-drinking group. For details about the amount of cocoa consumed (and its flavanol content), as well as our tests of flavanols (and contaminants) in popular cocoa powders and chocolates, see the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >>
10/22/2016

Cocoa Lowers Blood Sugar

In addition to potential cardiovascular, memory, and other benefits, a new analysis shows that cocoa flavanols may reduce fasting glucose and improve insulin resistance. Get the details in the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >>
6/15/2019

Cocoa & Physical Performance

Can a cup of cocoa a day improve physical performance? See what a recent study found in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks for cocoa powders and dark chocolates.
10/09/2018

Cocoa for Diabetes?

Cocoa flavanols may help control blood sugar, but do they offer benefits to people with diabetes? See what recent studies are finding in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among products).
11/10/2017

Curcumin for Memory

There is mixed evidence on whether or not curcumin helps improve memory. A recently published study found that a proprietary formula helped, although, last year, a study using a different formula failed to help. In both cases, certain side effects were more common among those taking curcumin than placebo. Get the details in the "What It Does" section of the Turmeric & Curcumin Supplements Review >> [Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate bars in the Review.]
1/17/2018

FDA Finds High Cadmium in Cocoa Products

Researchers from the U.S. FDA recently reported finding high levels of cadmium in cocoas as well as cocoa nibs and dark chocolates — particularly in cocoas from certain parts of the world. The results are similar to what ConsumerLab has reported. For details, see the Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Nibs, Extracts & Supplements Review >>
12/02/2020

Cocoa for Cognition

A new study suggests that cocoa may improve some aspects of cognitive function in healthy people and sheds some light on how this may work. See the details in the Memory and Cognition section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks among dark chocolates, cocoa powders and supplements.
2/15/2020

Cocoa for Artery Disease?

People with peripheral artery disease often have trouble walking. Can flavanol-rich cocoa help? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolates Review. Also see our Top Picks for cocoas, chocolates, chips, nibs, and cocoa supplements.

News Releases (17)

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