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Flavanols in Cocoa, Cacoa, and Chocolate Products Reviewed by ConsumerLab.com

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

See CL's picks for best dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cacao nib, and cocoa supplement based on independent tests for cocoa flavanols and contaminants. Find out which ones passed or failed our review and learn the cardiovascular, memory, blood sugar, and skin effects of flavanols.

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Encyclopedia Articles Found: (Articles do not mention brands)
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1.High Cholesterol


ConsumerLab.com Answers to Questions Found:
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1.What is the difference between cocoa and cacao? Is one better than the other?
2.Why is there so much cadmium, a toxin, in cocoa powders but not in dark chocolate?
3.What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
4.Is Hershey's Special Dark better than other dark chocolate bars or cocoa powders?
5.How much dark chocolate equals a tablespoon of cocoa powder?
6.Are cocoa and chocolate products contaminated with the fungal toxin ochratoxin A?
7.I heard somewhere to avoid chocolate with "processed with alkali" in the ingredients. Is that true?
8.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?
9.Is the theobromine in chocolate and cocoa good or bad for me?
10.Which dark chocolate bar has the most flavanols with the least calories?
11.Can chocolate and cocoa powder cause eczema?
12.Does chocolate really cause migraines?
13.How much cocoa or chocolate do I need to consume in order to get a benefit?
14.How much fat is there in chocolate? Is it saturated fat?
15.Can cocoa and chocolate cause kidney stones?
16.How much caffeine is really in dark chocolate bars?
17.Why does dark chocolate have iron in it? Is it, or cocoa, a good dietary source of iron?
18.Do any supplements help prevent sunburn or skin damage from sun exposure?
19.What is acrylamide? Is it true that coffee and cocoa contain this toxin?
20.How does white tea compare to green tea and black tea in terms of antioxidant catechins? How about caffeine levels and lead contamination?  (in Comments)
21.What's the best protein to keep and gain muscle when you're older?  (in Comments)
22.Which dietary supplements and health foods contain high levels of lead?
23.How do I choose the best CoQ10 supplement?  (in Comments)
24.I've heard that curcumin is a MAO inhibitor. Is this true, and does that mean it is not safe to take if you eat amine-rich foods like cheese and dark chocolate?
25.When choosing a protein powder, which protein source is best -- whey, casein, soy, pea, rice, hemp or egg?
26.Does CoQ10 reduce wrinkles, increase skin elasticity, or tighten the skin? Are there any other supplements that can help?
27.I take lisinopril (Zestril), an ACE inhibitor drug to lower blood pressure. Are there supplements I should avoid, or be taking, due to this drug?  (in Comments)
28.Is it best to take probiotic supplements with or without food? It seems like everyone has a different recommendation.  (in Comments)
29.Which vitamins and supplements are good for acne, and are there any that make it worse?
30.Do any supplements really help with brain function, like memory and cognition?
31.I was surprised when my doctor told me to stop taking supplements because my kidney function was low. But after stopping the supplements, my kidney function returned to normal. Can taking a lot of supplements really damage the kidneys?
32.How do the Beyond Burger, the Impossible Burger, and a beef burger compare in terms of vitamins and minerals, and which is best?
33.I take a number of supplements and I think they are making my acid reflux worse. Which supplements could be causing my stomach irritation, and what can I do about it?
34.What is carrageenan? Should I be concerned that it is an ingredient in my supplement?
35.Which supplements can help with indigestion and/or heartburn?
36.Which supplements help to improve energy and decrease fatigue?
37.Which supplements can help me sleep?
38.Which supplements can help to lower blood pressure?
39.Is it true that some vitamins or supplements can cause cancer?
40.Some websites are highly critical of magnesium stearate, which is in many supplements. Is this substance toxic and should I avoid it?
41.Is drinking coffee good or bad for heart health?
42.Is it true that most coffee is contaminated with mold?


Clinical Updates Found:
2020 Chocolate to Improve Body Composition? (08/11/2020)
Chocolate to Improve Body Composition?
Can eating a small amount of chocolate every day help improve body composition? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, chocolate chips and cocoa powders.
 Chocolate and Cancer (08/06/2020)
Chocolate and Cancer
Can eating more chocolate reduce cancer risk? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, chocolate chips and cocoa powders.
 Dark Chocolate for Memory? (04/05/2020)
Dark Chocolate for Memory?
Studies show that chocolate high in flavanols can improve cognition in people with cognitive decline. Can it also boost memory in people who are cognitively healthy? Find out in the Memory section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolates and cocoa powders.
 Cocoa for Artery Disease? (02/15/2020)
Cocoa for Artery Disease?
People with peripheral artery disease often have trouble walking. Can flavanol-rich cocoa help? Find out what a recent study showed in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolates Review. Also see our Top Picks for cocoas, chocolates, chips, nibs, and cocoa supplements.
2019 Dark Chocolate for Vision Improvement? (09/28/2019)
Dark Chocolate for Vision Improvement?
Does consuming flavanol-rich dark chocolate improve visual acuity? See what a recent study found in the Vision section of the Cocoas and Dark Chocolates Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and nibs.
 Dark Chocolate & Depression? (07/31/2019)
Dark Chocolate & Depression?
Are people who consume dark chocolate less likely to be depressed? Find out what a recent study showed in the Mood and Stress section of the Dark Chocolates and Cocoa Powders Review. Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolates and cocoa powders.
 Cocoa & Physical Performance (06/15/2019)
Cocoa & Physical Performance
Can a cup of cocoa a day improve physical performance? See what a recent study found in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks for cocoa powders and dark chocolates.
 Does Dark Chocolate Improve Mood? (06/11/2019)
Does Dark Chocolate Improve Mood?
A recent study evaluated whether eating dark chocolate improved mood and reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. See the results in the What It Does section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review. Also see our Top Picks among products.
2018 Chocolate and Platelet Function? (12/18/2018)
Chocolate and Platelet Function?
A recent study found that eating dark chocolate affected a measure of platelet function. How important is this? Get the details in the Cardiovascular section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review. (Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate).
 Cocoa for Diabetes? (10/09/2018)
Cocoa for Diabetes?
Cocoa flavanols may help control blood sugar, but do they offer benefits to people with diabetes? See what recent studies are finding in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among products).
 Cocoa and Cholesterol (09/12/2018)
Cocoa and Cholesterol
Can cocoa flavanols improve cholesterol levels? See what a recent study found in the Cardiovascular section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among cocoa and dark chocolate products.)
 Chocolate for the Heart? (08/28/2018)
Chocolate for the Heart?
Studies suggest cardiovascular benefits from daily intake of cocoa flavanols, as found in dark chocolate. However, a new study, focusing on heart failure, suggests more limited intake. Get the details and our analysis in the Cardiovascular section of the Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, and Nibs Review. (Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate, cocoa powders, and more.)
 Intestinal Benefit of Cocoa? (06/20/2018)
Intestinal Benefit of Cocoa?
Cocoa flavanols may support intestinal health, according to an animal study with a cocoa powder that acted like a prebiotic. Get the details in the What It Does section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review. (Also see our Top Picks among cocoa and dark chocolate products.)
 Dark vs. Milk Chocolate for Vision? (04/29/2018)
Dark vs. Milk Chocolate for Vision?
A recent study compared the effects on visual acuity of eating a bar of dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. Find out which was better in the Vision section of the Dark Chocolates, Cocoa Powders, and Cacao Nibs Review. (Also see our product tests, comparisons, and Top Picks.)
 FDA Finds High Cadmium in Cocoa Products (01/17/2018)
FDA Finds High Cadmium in Cocoa Products
Researchers from the U.S. FDA recently reported finding high levels of cadmium in cocoas as well as cocoa nibs and dark chocolates – particularly in cocoas from certain parts of the world. The results are similar to what ConsumerLab has reported. For details, see the Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Powder, Nibs, Extracts & Supplements Review >>
2017 Curcumin for Memory (11/10/2017)
Curcumin for Memory
There is mixed evidence on whether or not curcumin helps improve memory. A recently published study found that a proprietary formula helped, although, last year, a study using a different formula failed to help. In both cases, certain side effects were more common among those taking curcumin than placebo. Get the details in the "What It Does" section of the Turmeric & Curcumin Supplements Review >> [Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate bars in the Review.]
 Dark Chocolate for Memory (11/08/2017)
Dark Chocolate for Memory
Short-term studies suggest that large doses of cocoa flavanols improve certain aspects of memory and cognition. A new study suggests that long-term habitual intake of dark chocolate, which is rich in flavanols, can also help. For more information, see the "What It Does" section of the Dark Chocolate and Cocoa Review >> [Also see our Top Picks for dark chocolate bars in the Review.]
 Dark Chocolate & Appetite (07/05/2017)
Dark Chocolate & Appetite
A recent study found that women consumed fewer calories after eating dark chocolate than after eating milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate also resulted in better blood sugar control – an effect noted in other studies of moderate consumption of dark chocolate. Get the details on this and other effects of dark chocolate in the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review, which includes our tests and comparisons of popular products.
 Some Concern About Theobromine in Dark Chocolate (06/28/2017)
Some Concern About Theobromine in Dark Chocolate
ConsumerLab’s tests of dark chocolates show them to contain about as much theobromine (a caffeine-related stimulant) as heart-healthy flavanols. So is all this theobromine good or bad? A recent study suggests that it may be an issue for people who need to control their blood sugar, while, on the positive side, it lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol. Get the details in the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review, which includes comparisons of the amounts of theobromine in popular products, as well as amounts of flavanols, caffeine, and contaminants.
 Heart Risk Lower with Chocolate (05/30/2017)
Heart Risk Lower with Chocolate
Eating chocolate is associated with a reduced risk of developing atrial fibrillation, according to a large, long-term study. Atrial fibrillation is associated with higher risk of stroke, heart failure and other serious problems. Details about this and other benefits of chocolate are found in the "What It Does" section of the Chocolate and Cocoa Powders Review, which includes our findings for the flavanol content and contamination levels of popular products.
 Chocolate May Reduce Diabetes Risk (04/15/2017)
Chocolate May Reduce Diabetes Risk
"Occasional" consumption of chocolate was associated with a lower risk of developing diabetes among certain postmenopausal women, according to new study. For details about this and other effects of chocolate, see the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >>
2016 Cocoa for High Blood Pressure? (12/13/2016)
Cocoa for High Blood Pressure?
A new study in which people with mild hypertension were given a cocoa beverage and dark chocolate daily for eight weeks found that it only helped lower blood pressure when people were taking certain blood pressure-lowering medications. For more details about this and other studies with cocoa and dark chocolate, as well as our tests and comparisons of products, see the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
 Cocoa Lowers Blood Sugar (10/22/2016)
Cocoa Lowers Blood Sugar
In addition to potential cardiovascular, memory, and other benefits, a new analysis shows that cocoa flavanols may reduce fasting glucose and improve insulin resistance. Get the details in the "What It Does" section of the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >>
 Chocolate May Help Exercise (03/29/2016)
Chocolate May Help Exercise
In a tasty new study, men who ate dark chocolate for several days were able to cycle somewhat further than those given a placebo (white chocolate), possibly due to the flavanols in dark chocolate -- which also appear to provide cardiovascular benefit. For details about the study and the chocolate, and ConsumerLab’s tests and reviews of dark chocolates and other cocoa-based products, see the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
2015 Cocoa for Wrinkles? (11/24/2015)
Cocoa for Wrinkles?
A study in older women found that drinking a high-flavanol cocoa drink each day increased skin elasticity. And while wrinkles deepened among those drinking a placebo, they stayed stable in the cocoa-drinking group. For details about the amount of cocoa consumed (and its flavanol content), as well as our tests of flavanols (and contaminants) in popular cocoa powders and chocolates, see the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >>
 Cocoa Flavanol Safety (11/11/2015)
Cocoa Flavanol Safety
A new study found that, even at high doses, cocoa flavanols did not cause adverse cardiovascular effects in healthy men and women. However, be aware that drug interactions and certain side effects can occur. Details are provided in the "Concerns and Cautions" section of the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs & Supplements Review >>
 Cardiovascular Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols (09/12/2015)
Cardiovascular Benefits of Cocoa Flavanols
A drink rich in cocoa flavanols modestly improved certain measures of cardiovascular health in healthy, middle-aged men and women, according to a recent study. Get the details, including dosage, plus our tests of popular products, in the Review of Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements >>
 Cocoa Increases Blood Flow to Brain (08/19/2015)
Cocoa Increases Blood Flow to Brain
A small study found that drinking a cocoa drink high in flavanols significantly increased blood flow to the brain, which, the researchers propose, might have potential cognitive benefits. Get the details, including dosage, plus more about cocoa and memory, and our tests of popular products, in the Cocoa Supplements and Dark Chocolate Review >>
 Does Cocoa Benefit Some More Than Others? (07/26/2015)
Does Cocoa Benefit Some More Than Others?
A recent study of natural cocoa taken daily showed potential cardiovascular benefits -- but they seemed greater for some people than others. See the details in the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >>
 Cocoa for Memory (06/10/2015)
Cocoa for Memory
Cocoa flavanols have been shown in some studies to provide a cardiovascular benefit and, in older individuals, memory improvement. A recent study in younger men and women showed that daily use of a cocoa extract had little effect on memory and no cardiovascular benefit, although it did improve mental fatigue shortly after taking the extract. Learn more about the effects of cocoa, dosage, and see our tests and reviews of cocoa products in the Cocoa Powders, Dark Chocolate, Extracts, Nibs, & Supplements Review >> 
 More Cocoa Benefits (01/11/2015)
More Cocoa Benefits
A recently published study showed that hot cocoa made with a flavanol-enriched powder resulted in improvements in cognitive performance as well as reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol, and improved glucose metabolism. The study was conducted in people ages 65 to 80 who drank the cocoa each morning. More details, as well as our tests of cocoa powders, are found in the Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Review >> 
2014 Lead in Dark Chocolate (09/10/2014)
Lead in Dark Chocolate
Our recent tests of cocoa-based products found problems with many popular brands of cocoa powders, which were high in cadmium and/or lead. No problem was found, however, with a widely-sold dark chocolate bar, which also had a good amount of potentially beneficial flavanols. A new report by academic researchers in Brazil shows that some dark chocolate bars do contain lead in excess of what the FDA permits (although brands were not identified.) More about this, as well as our test results for 15 cocoa products, is found in updated Review of Cocoa/Cacao Powders, Extracts, Nibs, Supplements, and Chocolate >> 
 Dark Chocolate Improves Walking in Peripheral Artery Disease (07/05/2014)
Dark Chocolate Improves Walking in Peripheral Artery Disease
A new, small study found that people with peripheral artery disease who consumed dark chocolate with a high cocoa content were able to walk further than they normally could. Consuming milk chocolate did not have this effect. The improvement was seen shortly after consuming just one dose. For more details, including dosage, as well as our tests and comparisons of cocoa supplements and chocolate, see the update to the Cocoa Powders, Extracts and Chocolate (Sources of Flavanols) Review >>   
 Cocoa May Worsen Acne (06/11/2014)
Cocoa May Worsen Acne
Unlike the study we reported last week showing potential help for acne from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements, a new study found that giving pure cocoa to men ages 18 to 35 had the opposite effect -- overall, more pimples. Get the details, along with our tests and comparisons of cocoa and chocolate products, in the update to the Cocoa Powders, Extracts and Chocolate Review >> 


Recent Recalls and Warnings Found:
1.Sundial Herbal Recalls More Than Sixty Products Including Turmeric, Cinnamon & Tea (07/10/2020)
2.Mislabeled Lindt Chocolate Bar Recalled (03/24/2020)
3.Dark Chocolate Bar Recalled Due to Allergen Risk (02/14/2020)
4.Sea Salt 70% Dark Chocolate Bar Recalled Due to Allergen Risk (03/30/2019)
5.Nutrition Bars Sold at Whole Foods and Online Recalled (03/31/2018)
6.Dark Chocolate Bar Recalled (12/13/2017)

Archived Recalls and Warnings Found:
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1.Protein Bars Recalled Due to Listeria Risk (08/03/2017)
2.Protein Bars Recalled Due to Listeria Risk (07/24/2017)
3.Dark Chocolate Bar Recalled Due to Allergen Risk (01/14/2017)
4.Ikea Expands Recall of Chocolate Bars (07/16/2016)
5.Ikea Recalls Dark Chocolate Bars Due to Allergen Risk (07/02/2016)
6.Toxins in Chocolate (03/30/2016)
7.Soylent Meal Replacement Powder Reported to Contain Lead and Cadmium (08/19/2015)
8.Many Dark Chocolate Bars Found to Contain Undeclared Milk (02/12/2015)
9.FDA Warns Seller of Supplements and Chocolate Promoted to Treat Ebola (09/26/2014)
10.Chocolate and Carob Drink Mix Recalled Due To Salmonella Risk (07/30/2014)
11.Chia Powders and Smoothies Recalled Due to Salmonella Risk (05/29/2014)
12.Nutrition Bar Recalled Due To Undeclared Allergen (03/11/2013)
13.Manufacturer of Heart, Multivitamin, Cranberry, and Longevity Supplements Warned For Adulteration and Drug Claims (02/13/2013)
14.FDA Warns Candy Maker Making Heart Health Claims (06/26/2006)


News Releases Found:
2020 We Found the Best Dark Chocolates and Cocoas With the Least Contamination (01/23/2020)
2019 Some Nutrition Bars Contain More Carbs and Less Fiber Than Listed, ConsumerLab Tests Reveal (09/11/2019)
2017 New Tests Reveal Whether Dark Chocolates and Cocoas Are Toxic or Healthful (07/19/2017)
2014 You Can't Judge a Dark Chocolate Bar by Its Label, According to Tests by ConsumerLab.com -- Amounts of Cocoa Flavanols Vary Widely Among Popular Brands of Chocolate (11/25/2014)
 ConsumerLab.com Finds Popular Cocoa Powders Contaminated; High Concentrations of Cadmium Raise Concern (08/05/2014)
 Your Cocoa May Be Contaminated! ConsumerLab.com Reveals What’s Really in Cocoa and Chocolate Products (05/21/2014)


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