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Product Review: Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Nibs, Extracts & Supplements -- Sources of Flavanols
 

Initial Posting: 5/17/14  EXPANDED: 8/1/14, 10/28/15 and 7/16/17 Last Upate: 6/20/18
Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

Choosing the Right Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate and Nibs

Is Your Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Healthful or Toxic?

ConsumerLab.com Identifies Best and Worst Products

Alphabetical list of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products covered in report.
Aduna Super-Cacao Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Nestle Toll House Cocoa
Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar Ghirardelli Chocolate Intense Dark Twilight Delight NOW Certified Organic Cocoa Powder
Baker's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Bar All Natural Ghirardelli® Intense Dark 86% Cacao NuNaturals Pure Liquid Cocoa Bean Extract
Bulletproof Upgraded Chocolate Powder Green & Black's ORGANIC 85% Cacao Bar Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate - 85% Cacao
Cacao by Advanced Physician Formulas Hawaii Pharm Cacao Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder
Chocolove Extra Strong - 77% Cocoa Content Healthworks Cacao Powder Reserveage CocoaWell
CocoaVia Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Solaray Cocoa
CocoaVia Sweetened Dark Chocolate flavored mix Hershey's Cocoa - 100% Cacao Natural Unsweetened Source Naturals ChocoLift
Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder Hershey's Cocoa - Natural Unsweetened Sunfood Raw Cacao Powder
Dove Dark Chocolate Lily's Dark Chocolate - Original - Stevia Sweetened Swanson Full Spectrum Cacao
Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Trader Joe's 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Endangered Species Chocolate Natural Dark Chocolate Moser Roth Edel Bitter 85% Cacao Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened
Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Bar
Futurebiotics Dark Chocolate Extract Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs Organic
Aduna Super-Cacao Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar Baker's Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Bar All Natural Bulletproof Upgraded Chocolate Powder Cacao by Advanced Physician Formulas Chocolove Extra Strong - 77% Cocoa Content CocoaVia CocoaVia Sweetened Dark Chocolate flavored mix Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder Dove Dark Chocolate Earth Circle Organics Organic Balinese Cacao Nibs Endangered Species Chocolate Natural Dark Chocolate Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Futurebiotics Dark Chocolate Extract Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Cocoa Ghirardelli Chocolate Intense Dark Twilight Delight Ghirardelli® Intense Dark 86% Cacao Green & Black's ORGANIC 85% Cacao Bar Hawaii Pharm Cacao Healthworks Cacao Powder Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Hershey's Cocoa - 100% Cacao Natural Unsweetened Hershey's Cocoa - Natural Unsweetened Lily's Dark Chocolate - Original - Stevia Sweetened Lindt Excellence 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Moser Roth Edel Bitter 85% Cacao Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder Nestle Toll House Cocoa NOW Certified Organic Cocoa Powder NuNaturals Pure Liquid Cocoa Bean Extract Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate - 85% Cacao Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder Reserveage CocoaWell Solaray Cocoa Source Naturals ChocoLift Sunfood Raw Cacao Powder Swanson Full Spectrum Cacao Trader Joe's 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Bar Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs Organic
Make sure the cocoa, cacao, or chocolate you use passed our tests and is right for you!
Isn't your health worth it?

Cocoa powders, chocolates, and other products made from cacao beans can be rich in flavanols — which may help with blood flow, blood pressure, memory, cholesterol levels. But beware: Many products are contaminated with high amounts of cadmium, a toxin you should avoid. In addition, the amounts of flavanols are rarely disclosed, so you have no idea what to expect unless you test them in a lab — which is what ConsumerLab.com has done.

Among dark chocolate bars, our tests revealed that two popular bars to be contaminated with cadmium at several times established limits. And being labeled "organic" did not ensure better quality. Also, the "% cocoa" (or cacao) on labels was often a poor indicator of flavanol levels. In fact, several bars claiming 80% to 85% cacao contained lower amounts of flavanols than bars claiming 56% to 77%.


Fortunately, we were able to identify certain dark chocolate bars rich in flavanols and low in cadmium, as well as relatively low in calories -- one of which is our Top Pick for Dark Chocolate.

Our tests also revealed high levels of cadmium in most cocoa powders, and some were contaminated with lead, another toxic heavy metal. It would seem best to use cocoa powders in moderation and to avoid two products with shockingly high levels of cadmium. We were able to identify one cocoa powder with a much better ratio of beneficial flavanols to harmful cadmium, making it our Top Pick for Cocoa Powders.

If you like cacao nibs (bits of cocoa beans), we tested three — one of which appears to be a better option than the others — making it our Top Pick for Cacao Nibs. We also tested cocoa supplements and identified one providing the most cocoa flavanols — and at the lowest cost: our Top Pick for Cocoa Supplements.

You can read the full report now if you're a CL Member. to get You'll immediately get CL's test results for over 40 dark chocolate bars, cocoa powders, cacao nibs, and cocoa supplements along with ConsumerLab.com's reviews, recommendations, and quality ratings. And if you are sensitive to caffeine, you'll want to see how much we found in each product — something not typically listed on labels. Some pack as much caffeine as 1 ½ cups of coffee, while others contain little.

In this comprehensive report, you'll discover:
    • Which cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products failed testing and which passed
    • ConsumerLab.com's Top Picks among the best cocoa and dark chocolate products
    • Direct comparisons and quality ratings of cocoa, cacao, and chocolate products
    • How cocoa powder, cocoa extract, nibs, cacao, and dark and milk chocolates differ in amounts of flavanols, contaminants, calories, caffeine and theobromine
    • Cost comparisons, showing you which cocoa, cacao, and chocolate products provide the most flavanols at lowest cost
    • Dosage information for using cocoa-based products -- and what clinical studies have shown
    • Side-effects, cautions, and potential drug interactions with cocoa and chocolate
SEE THE REPORT NOW!

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Watch LIVE Q&A with CL Founder, Dr. Tod Cooperman

Learn More About Cocoa Powder, Dark Chocolate, Nibs and Supplements

ConsumerLab.com Answers -- for Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Nibs, Extracts & Supplements -- Sources of Flavanols
Question:
Do any supplements help prevent sunburn or skin damage from sun exposure? Get the answer >>

Question:
How much cocoa or chocolate do I need to consume in order to get a benefit? Get the answer >>

Question:
Why does dark chocolate have iron in it? Is it, or cocoa, a good dietary source of iron? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which dark chocolate bar has the most flavanols with the least calories? Get the answer >>

Question:
Why is there so much cadmium, a toxin, in cocoa powders but not in dark chocolate? Get the answer >>

Question:
I heard somewhere to avoid chocolate with "processed with alkali" in the ingredients. Is that true? Get the answer >>

Question:
How much fat is there in chocolate? Is it saturated fat? Get the answer >>

Question:
How much caffeine is really in dark chocolate bars? Get the answer >>

Question:
Can chocolate and cocoa powder cause eczema? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help to lower blood pressure? Get the answer >>

Question:
Does CoQ10 reduce wrinkles, increase skin elasticity, or tighten the skin? Are there any other supplements that can help? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help with indigestion and/or heartburn? Get the answer >>

Question:
What is acrylamide? Is it true that coffee and cocoa contain this toxin? Get the answer >>

Question:
Are cocoa and chocolate products contaminated with the fungal toxin ochratoxin A? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements help to improve energy and decrease fatigue? Get the answer >>

Question:
What is the theobromine in chocolate and cocoa? Is it good or bad for me? Get the answer >>

Question:
Is Hershey's Special Dark better than other dark chocolate bars or cocoa powders? Get the answer >>
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