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Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com
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Alphabetical list of cocoa, cacao, and dark chocolate products compared in this review

View Larger Image 6937_large_AlterEco-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Alter Eco Deep Dark Blackout

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Baker's Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate Bar

View Larger Image 6939_large_BakersUnsweeteed-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Baker's Unsweetened - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 6940_large_Chocolove-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Chocolove Extra Strong - 77% Cocoa Content

View Larger Image 6941_large_Chocolove-Strong-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Chocolove Strong Dark Chocolate - 70% Cocoa Content

View Larger Image 6971_large_CocoVia-Cocoa-2019-19.png

CocoaVia

View Larger Image 6995_large_CocoaVia-CranRaspberry-Cocoa-2020.png

CocoaVia - Cran-Raspberry (Mix)

View Larger Image 6996_large_CocoaVia-Original-Cocoa-2020.png

CocoaVia - Original (Mix)

View Larger Image 6997_large_CocoaVia-SweetenedDarkChocolate-Cocoa-2020.png

CocoaVia - Sweetened Dark Chocolate Mix

View Larger Image 6970_large_CocoaVia-Unsweetened-Cocoa-2019-19.png

CocoaVia - Unsweetened Dark Chocolate Mix

View Larger Image 7945_large_CocoaVia-BrainHealth-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Brain Health Memory+

View Larger Image 7946_large_CocoaVia-CardioHealth-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Cardio Health

View Larger Image 7947_large_CocoaVia-CardioHealth-DarkChocolate-Cocoa-2022.png

CocoaVia Cardio Health - Dark Chocolate Flavor Mix

View Larger Image 7367_large_MemoryPlus-Cocoa-2020.png

CocoaVia Memory+

View Larger Image 6958_large_Dagoba-Cacao-2019-17.png

Dagoba Organic Chocolate Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 6942_large_Dove-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Dove Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 6943_large_EndangeredSpecies-Cocoa-2019-19.png

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

View Larger Image 6944_large_EqualExchange-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark - 80% Cacao

View Larger Image 6973_large_FutureBiotics-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Futurebiotics Dark Chocolate Extract

View Larger Image 6956_large_Ghirardelli-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips - 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate

View Larger Image 6959_large_Ghirardelli-100-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Cocoa - 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 6945_large_Ghirardelli-86-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Ghirardelli Intense Dark 86% Cacao

View Larger Image 6957_large_Guittard-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips - 63% Cacao

View Larger Image 6974_large_HawaiiPharm-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Hawaii Pharm Cacao

View Larger Image 6967_large_Healthworks-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Healthworks Cacao Nibs

View Larger Image 6960_large_Healthworks-CacaoPowder-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Healthworks Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 6976_large_Hersheys-Natural-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Hershey's Cocoa - 100% Cacao Natural Unsweetened

View Larger Image 6961_large_Hersheys-Dutched-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 6946_large_Lilys-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Lily's Dark Chocolate - Original - Stevia Sweetened

View Larger Image 6947_large_Lindt-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Lindt Excellence Supreme Dark - 90% Cocoa

View Larger Image 6948_large_Montezumas-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Montezuma's Dark Chocolate Absolute Black - 100% Cocoa

View Larger Image 6949_large_MoserRoth-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Moser Roth Edel Bitter 85% Cacao

View Larger Image 6977_large_Navitas-Powder-2019-19.png

Navitas Naturals Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 6968_large_Navitas-Nibs-Cocoa-2019-19.png

Navitas Organics Organic Cacao Nibs

View Larger Image 6950_large_Pascha-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate - 85% Cacao

View Larger Image 6951_large_ScharffenBerger-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Scharffen Berger Unsweetened - 99% Cacao

View Larger Image 6975_large_Solaray-Cocoa-2019-17.png

Solaray Cocoa

View Larger Image 6952_large_TazaChocolate-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Taza Chocolate Wicked Dark - 95% Dark

View Larger Image 6953_large_Theo-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Theo Sea Salt - 70% Dark Chocolate

View Larger Image 6963_large_TraderJoes-Powder-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Trader Joe's Cocoa Powder Unsweetened

View Larger Image 6964_large_TraderJoes-Powder-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Trader Joe's Organic Fair Trade Cacao Powder

View Larger Image 6954_large_TraderJoes-PoundPlus-Cocoa-2019-19.png

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

View Larger Image 6955_large_TraderJoes-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Trader Joe's The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar - 85% Cacao

View Larger Image 6965_large_Valrhona-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Valrhona Poudre De Cacao Cocoa Powder - 100% Cacao

View Larger Image 6969_large_VivaNaturals-Cocoa-2019-17 (1).png

Viva Naturals Cacao Nibs Organic

View Larger Image 6966_large_Volupta-Cocoa-2019-19 (1).png

Volupta Cacao Powder

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).
  • Which dark chocolate and cocoa are 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 cocoa or dark chocolate 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.
  • Dark chocolate and cocoa safety and side effects: 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 43 dark chocolate bars and chips, cocoa powders, cacao nibs, and cocoa supplements, including 37 selected by ConsumerLab.com and six 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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