A recent study by Consumer Reports has revealed concerning levels of heavy metals, specifically lead and cadmium, in a wide range of chocolate products. This includes not only dark chocolate but also milk chocolate, cocoa powders, brownie mixes, and chocolate chips from both large and smaller brands available at major retailers.
The research tested 48 products and found detectable amounts of lead and cadmium in each. James Rogers, PhD, from Consumer Reports, highlighted that 16 of these products exceeded their levels of concern for these heavy metals, sometimes by more than twice the limit. However, safer options were identified in each category.
In California, where regulations are often stricter, the maximum daily allowable doses are 0.5 micrograms for lead and 4.1 micrograms for cadmium. The study found that five out of seven dark chocolate bars exceeded these limits. In contrast, all tested milk chocolate bars were within safe levels, as were most chocolate chips and cocoa powders. However, several hot cocoa mixes and brownie mixes did exceed the safe limits for heavy metals.
Cadmium and lead, naturally found in the earth's crust, can end up in chocolate through the soil where cacao beans grow or from environmental contamination during processing. These metals pose health risks, including kidney damage and developmental problems in children.
Luz Claudio, PhD, a professor of environmental medicine, advises moderation in chocolate consumption and maintaining a balanced diet. She emphasizes the importance of a varied diet including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Nutritionist Toby Amidor, RD, also notes that while heavy metals are present in chocolate, they are also found in other foods, yet those foods remain recommended for a healthy diet. They agree different sources of potentially-toxic heavy metals may add up to an increased risk for consumers.
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