Product Reviews
Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review -- Sources of Flavanols
 

Initial Posting: 7/16/17; EXPANDED 12/21/19   Last Update: 4/5/20

Find the Best Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder and Cocoa Supplements

Is Your Chocolate or Cocoa Healthful or Toxic? Find Out Now!
Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com
Alphabetical list of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products compared in this review
Alter Eco Deep Dark Blackout Futurebiotics Dark Chocolate Extract Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder
Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips Navitas Organics Organic Cacao Nibs
Baker's Unsweetened - 100% Cacao Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Cocoa Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate - 85% Cacao
Chocolove Extra Strong - 77% Cocoa Content Ghirardelli Intense Dark 86% Cacao Scharffen Berger Unsweetened - 99% Cacao
Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate - 70% Cocoa Content Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips Solaray Cocoa
CocoaVia Hawaii Pharm Cacao Taza Chocolate Wicked Dark - 95% Dark
CocoaVia - Cran-Raspberry (Mix) Healthworks Cacao Nibs Theo Sea Salt - 70% Dark Chocolate
CocoaVia - Original (Mix) Healthworks Cacao Powder Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened
CocoaVia - Sweetened Dark Chocolate Mix Hershey's Cocoa - 100% Cacao Natural Unsweetened Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Cacao Powder
CocoaVia - Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Mix Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark - 100% Cacao Trader Joe's Pound Plus - 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate
Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder Lily's Dark Chocolate - Original - Stevia Sweetened Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar
Dove Dark Chocolate Lindt Excellence Supreme Dark - 90% Cocoa Valrhona Poudre De Cacao Cocoa Powder - 100% Cacao
Endangered Species Chocolate Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Absolute Black Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs Organic
Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Moser Roth Edel Bitter 85% Cacao Volupta Cacao Powder
Alter Eco Deep Dark Blackout Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar Baker's Unsweetened - 100% Cacao Chocolove Extra Strong - 77% Cocoa Content Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate - 70% Cocoa Content CocoaVia CocoaVia - Cran-Raspberry (Mix) CocoaVia - Original (Mix) CocoaVia - Sweetened Dark Chocolate Mix CocoaVia - Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Mix Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder Dove Dark Chocolate Endangered Species Chocolate Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Futurebiotics Dark Chocolate Extract Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Cocoa Ghirardelli Intense Dark 86% Cacao Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips Hawaii Pharm Cacao Healthworks Cacao Nibs Healthworks Cacao Powder Hershey's Cocoa - 100% Cacao Natural Unsweetened Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark - 100% Cacao Lily's Dark Chocolate - Original - Stevia Sweetened Lindt Excellence Supreme Dark - 90% Cocoa Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Absolute Black Moser Roth Edel Bitter 85% Cacao Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder Navitas Organics Organic Cacao Nibs Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate - 85% Cacao Scharffen Berger Unsweetened - 99% Cacao Solaray Cocoa Taza Chocolate Wicked Dark - 95% Dark Theo Sea Salt - 70% Dark Chocolate Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Cacao Powder Trader Joe's Pound Plus - 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar Valrhona Poudre De Cacao Cocoa Powder - 100% Cacao Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs Organic Volupta Cacao Powder
Make sure the cocoa, cacao, or chocolate you use passed our tests and is right for you!
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Summary: What You Need to Know About Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs and Supplements
  • What are the health benefits? Cocoa-based products contain flavanols which are associated with modest potential benefits regarding blood flow, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, exercise, memory/cognition, skin wrinkles, and blood sugar control (see What It Does).
  • Which product is best? Be careful! Our tests show that many popular cocoa powders and cacao nibs, as well as some dark chocolates, are contaminated with high levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal (see What CL Found). Fortunately, we were able to identify a few great products that minimize cadmium exposure, maximize flavanols, offer superior value, and even minimize calories without sacrificing flavor. See CL's Top Picks.
  • How much do I need? Clinical studies suggest the following total daily intakes of flavanols for the purposes noted below, although further research is needed to confirm benefits and optimal dosing: To get these amounts look at the 3rd column in the Results Table below. It will show you the amount of flavanols in a serving of each product.
  • Is it safe? Although cocoa and chocolate products are generally safe, it may be best to limit consumption of products due to contaminants, as well as calories (See How much of a danger is cadmium and lead from cocoa and chocolate?) Be aware that the caffeine and theobromine in cocoa products may cause side effects as well as interfere with the actions of certain drugs. Cocoa and chocolate products may also trigger migraines in some people and may trigger allergic contact dermatitis in nickel-sensitive individuals. People with milk allergies should be aware that dark chocolate bars may contain milk (see Concerns and Cautions).
You must be a ConsumerLab.com member to get the full test results along with ConsumerLab.com's Top Picks among products. You'll get immediate access to the amounts of flavanols and cadmium that we discovered in 42 dark chocolate bars and chips, cocoa powders, cacao nibs, and cocoa supplements, including 37 selected by ConsumerLab.com and five products tested through our voluntary Quality Certification Program.

If you are sensitive to caffeine or theobromine, you'll also want to see how much we found in each dark chocolate bar and supplement — something not typically listed on labels.

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
    • 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 dark chocolate, including concerns about allergies, acne, acrylamide, migraine, ochratoxin A, blood sugar control, and kidney stones
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Dark Chocolates and Cocoas - Finding the Best and Avoiding Toxic Cadmium

Learn More About Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

ConsumerLab.com Answers -- for Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review -- 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:
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:
Can cocoa and chocolate cause kidney stones? Get the answer >>

Question:
How much dark chocolate equals a tablespoon of cocoa powder? Get the answer >>

Question:
Does chocolate really cause migraines? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which dietary supplements and health foods contain high levels of lead? 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 >>

Question:
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate? Get the answer >>

Question:
What is the difference between cocoa and cacao? Is one better than the other? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which supplements can help me sleep? Get the answer >>

Question:
Which vitamins and supplements are good for acne, and are there any that make it worse? Get the answer >>
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