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Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Nibs, Extracts & Supplements Review -- Sources of Flavanols
Initial Posting: 5/17/14 EXPANDED: 8/1/14, 10/28/15 and 7/16/17 Last Upate: 10/9/18
Find the Best Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Supplements and Nibs
CL Tests Reveal Amounts of Flavanols -- and Concerns With Cadmium -- In Popular Cocoa Products
Alphabetical list of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products compared in this review
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
Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate
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
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 review, 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
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Question: What is acrylamide? Is it true that coffee and cocoa contain this toxin? Get the answer >>
Question: I asked the distributor of my cacao powder how it checks for metals. They say they do "foreign material detection" to capture "metal fragments." Is this adequate for checking cacao and cocoa for heavy metals, like cadmium, which you've found in other products? 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: Is the theobromine in chocolate and cocoa 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 >>