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Summary

  • What are the health benefits of dark chocolate and cocoa?

    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).
  • How much cocoa or dark chocolate do I need?

    This depends on two things: The amounts used in various clinical studies (summarized below), and the actual amounts of flavanols that we found in a serving of each product, which is provided in the 2nd column in the Results Table.

    Which dark chocolate and cocoa products are best?

    Be careful! Several cocoa powders, cacao nibs, and some dark chocolates failed to pass our review due to contamination with high levels of cadmium, a toxic heavy metal (see What CL Found). Furthermore, levels of potentially beneficial cocoa flavanols ranged from just 1 mg to 374 mg in cocoa powders and mixes, 2 mg to 351 mg in dark chocolates, and 2 mg to 993 mg in supplements.

    Among products that minimize heavy metal exposure, maximize flavanol content, and offer superior value without sacrificing flavor, we selected our Top Picks among supplements, cocoas and mixes, dark chocolates and chips, and cacao nibs.
  • Are dark chocolate and cocoa safe?

    Although cocoa and dark 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 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 dark chocolate products may also trigger migraine headache in some people as well as 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).

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Alphabetical list of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products compared in this review

View Larger Image 8053_large_365-WholeFoods-Cocoa-2022.png

365 Organic Cocoa Powder - Unsweetened

View Larger Image 8029_large_AlterEco-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Alter Eco Deep Dark Blackout - 85% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8030_large_Bakers-SemiSweet-Cocoa-2022.png

Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate - 56% Cacao

View Larger Image 8031_large_BakersUnsweeteed-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Baker's Unsweetened - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 8033_large_ChocZero-DarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

Choc Zero Sugar Free 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 8032_large_Chocolove-Strong-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate - 70% Cocoa Content

View Larger Image 8070_large_7945_large_CocoaVia-BrainHealth-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Brain Health Memory+

View Larger Image 8071_large_7946_large_CocoaVia-CardioHealth-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Cardio Health

View Larger Image 8072_large_7947_large_CocoaVia-CardioHealth-DarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Cardio Health - Dark Chocolate Flavor Mix

View Larger Image 8034_large_EndangeredSpecies-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Endangered Species Chocolate Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate - 88% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8035_large_Evolved-MidnightCoconut-Cocoa-2022.png

Evolved Midnight Coconut 100% Cacao Chocolate Bar

View Larger Image 8047_large_Ghirardelli-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips - 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate

View Larger Image 8054_large_Ghirardelli-100-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Cocoa - 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8049_large_Ghiirardelli-DoubleChocolate-HotCocoaMix-Cocoa-2022.png

Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix

View Larger Image 8036_large_Ghirardelli-IntenseDark-Cocoa-2022.png

Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 8055_large_GoodAndGather-UnsweetenedCocoaPowder-Cocoa-2022.png

Good & Gather Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8037_large_GreenAndBlacks-DarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

Green & Black's Organic Dark Chocolate - Dark 85% Cacao

View Larger Image 8048_large_Guittard-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips - 63% Cacao

View Larger Image 8051_large_Healthworks-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Healthworks Cacao Nibs

View Larger Image 8056_large_Hersheys-Dutched-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 8038_large_Hu-SaltyDarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

Hu Salty Dark Chocolate – 70% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8039_large_Lilys-SeaSaltDarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

Lily's Sea Salt - Extra Dark Chocolate - 70% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8040_large_Lindt-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Lindt Excellence Supreme Dark - 90% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8041_large_Montezumas-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Absolute Black - 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8057_large_Navitas-Powder-2019-19.png

Navitas Organic Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 8052_large_Navitas-Nibs-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Navitas Organics Organic Cacao Nibs

View Larger Image 8050_large_Nestle-HotCocoaMix-Cocoa-2022.png

Nestle Hot Cocoa Mix

View Larger Image 8058_large_Nestle-TollHouse-Cocoa-2022.png

Nestle Toll House 100% Pure Cocoa

View Larger Image 8075_large_NootropicsDepot-ChocamineExtract-Cocoa-2022.png

Nootropics Depot Chocamine Extract

View Larger Image 8059_large_NOW-CocoaPowder-Cocoa-2022.png

NOW Organic Cocoa Powder - 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 8042_large_ScharffenBerger-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Scharffen Berger Unsweetened - 99% Cacao

View Larger Image 8043_large_TazaChocolate-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Taza Chocolate Wicked Dark - 95% Dark

View Larger Image 8060_large_TerrasoulSuperfoods-CacaoPowder-Cocoa-2022.png

Terrasoul Superfoods Cacao Powder - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 8044_large_Theo-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Theo Sea Salt - 70% Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 8061_large_TraderJoes-Powder-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 8046_large_TraderJoes-PoundPlus-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Trader Joe's Pound Plus - 72% Cacao Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 8045_large_TraderJoes-Uganda-DarkChocolateBar-Cocoa-2022.png

Trader Joe's Uganda 85% Dark Chocolate Bar

View Larger Image 8063_large_Valrhona-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Valrhona Poudre De Cacao Cocoa Powder - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 8064_large_Volupta-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Volupta Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 8062_large_WildlyOrganic-FermentedCacaoPowder-Cocoa-2022.png

Wildly Organic Fermented Cacao Powder - 100% Cacao

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 40 dark chocolate bars and chips, cocoa powders, cacao nibs, and cocoa supplements, including 37 selected by ConsumerLab.com and three 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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