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White Plains, New York, May 21, 2014 [See related new release on 8/5/14] — Cocoa powders, dark chocolates, and other products made from cacao beans can be rich in flavanols -- which may help with blood flow, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. However, they may also be contaminated with the toxic heavy metal cadmium, according to recent tests from the independent testing group,

ConsumerLab selected and tested eight cocoa products promoted as sources of flavanols and sold in the form of a capsule, powder, extract, or dark chocolate bar. More than triple the acceptable levels of cadmium were found in two products, each of which delivered a total amount of cadmium above the tolerable limit for certain people. Cadmium is a probable carcinogen, can cause kidney toxicity and softening of bones, and may affect fetal development. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not established limits on cadmium in supplements and foods, Canada limits daily cadmium exposure from natural health products to approximately 6 mcg for adults and 3 mcg for children. The State of California requires a warning label on products with more than 4.1 mcg. The contaminated products contained 23.7 mcg and 13.3 mcg of cadmium per serving. These levels were confirmed in a second laboratory blinded to the identities of the products. found over 100 milligrams of flavanols in a daily serving of some of the products, while others contained just 3 or 4 milligrams, and one had just 0.03 milligrams — despite claiming to be "a highly concentrated extract" which "should not be confused with less potent powdered herbs or extracts." For potential therapeutic effect, a daily dose of 50 mg to 200 mg of flavanols is generally suggested.

Tests also revealed that the caffeine content in cocoas and chocolates varies widely, with a daily serving of some providing as much as in 1 ½ cups of coffee while others provided almost none.

Test results and comparisons for the products selected by for testing, as well as for one product which passed the same testing through's voluntary Quality Certification Program, are provided in a new report online at The report, which includes information about the uses, dosage, and potential side-effects of cocoa products, covers the following products:
  • Cacao by Advanced Physician Formulas
  • CocoaVia
  • Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate
  • Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
  • NOW Certified Organic Cocoa Powder
  • NuNaturals Pure Liquid Cocoa Bean Extract
  • Reserveage CocoaWell
  • Source Naturals ChocoLift
  • Swanson Full Spectrum Cacao is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Membership to is available online, providing immediate access to independent reviews of more than 1,000 products. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products. is affiliated with, an evaluator of online pharmacies, and, which reviews and rates Medicare Part D plans.

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