Chocolate is a popular treat around the world, especially when it comes to loved ones on Valentine’s Day, and for good reason. It’s rich, creamy, and indulgent.
Dark chocolate has recently gained popularity as the healthiest option full of rich flavour and high cacao content. But get this, a 2022 study conducted by Consumer Reports has us all questioning not only the ‘healthiness’ of dark chocolate, but its safety!
You may have seen Sunna discussing the report on our socials over the new year. That being said we wanted to dig a little deeper, into a product we have recommended as a healthy alternative, with Sunna even claiming he has a square or two every now and then.
Dark chocolate is considered a healthier option mainly due to its high content of cocoa solids. These solids contain flavanols, powerful antioxidants that have been linked to improved blood flow, decrease inflammation, and lower cholesterol levels. Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has less sugar, more fibre, and essential minerals such as magnesium and potassium. However, the presence of heavy metals, particularly cadmium, in the cocoa solids can offset the benefits and make it difficult to determine the true value of dark chocolate.
UK Limits for the Two Leading Chemical Contaminants in Chocolate:
Cadmium – 1.0mg/kg
Lead – 1.5mg/kg
Ones to Watch Out For 👀
The following brands are not only popular in the US, where the report was conducted, but also the UK too. Lindt 85% is one of Sunna's favourites too 😢 and as he mentioned in his post he will be reassessing where he gets his sweet fix from going forward.
*the results are relative to the state of California's guidelines.
Cadmium – what you need to know!
Cadmium is a toxic substance that can have serious effects on your health. If you ingest large amounts, it can cause severe irritation in your stomach and lead to symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Prolonged exposure to high levels of cadmium in the air, food, water, and especially in tobacco smoke can damage your lungs and even be fatal.
What’s concerning is ongoing exposure to low levels of cadmium can result in a build-up in your kidneys, potentially leading to kidney disease and weaker bones. It's also considered a potential carcinogen.
Lead – what you need to know!
Frequent exposure to lead can have serious consequences for your health too, including issues with the following:
- nervous system
- high blood pressure
- weakened immune system
- kidney damage
- reproductive problems
@tonichealth This is why the foods industry needs to change! #news #trending #healthtok ♬ original sound - Tonic Health 🍊
Although not everyone eats chocolate on a daily basis, according to market research firm Mintel, 15% of people do. Furthermore, the British Heart Foundation revealed that the average brit will consume 7,560 chocolate bars in a lifetime.
Even if you're not a frequent chocolate eater, lead and cadmium can still pose a threat as they can be found in other common foods like sweet potatoes, spinach, and carrots. It's important to be aware of the sources of these substances and to limit exposure as much as possible, as small amounts from various sources can add.
It's not all bad!
Not all dark chocolate products contain high levels of heavy metals. You can reduce the risk, by looking for chocolate brands that test their products for heavy metals and use sustainable sourcing practices to reduce contamination. You can also opt for dark chocolate made with cocoa beans that have been grown in regions with low heavy metal contamination, for example African soil is shown to have lower levels of cadmium than the soil in South America thus lower levels in their chocolate 🍫 Below are the 5 bars tested that fell within the safe limits, these are US brands but it supports the fact not all dark chocolate is "bad".
Now this information has been published, growers and chocolate makers will need to review their products, and monitor the soil where their plants grow, one possible solution for them is to blend higher concentrations with lower concentrations of cacao seed resulting in a lower average concentration, but we are not farmers or chocolate makers so we’ll leave that to the professionals.
More on TikTok this week
This Tuesday is Valentine's Day, so we will be keeping focus this week on all things LOVE 💕 We’ll be taking a look at some chocolate, talking to a florist as part of our ‘shop local’ series, plus who knew the magical wonders of pomegranate, I couldn’t think of a better gift this Valentine's Day than health 🤩
As always any questions, or topics you would like covered, send our founder Sunna an email on email@example.com