I love chocolate for its gratifying flavor, soothing aroma, and even nutritional value. Unfortunately, I have recently learned that this “healthier” dessert isn’t without its drawbacks: Some dark chocolate bars have been discovered to contain the heavy metals cadmium and lead, which have been related to a wide range of health issues in both children and adults.
Consumer Reports recently tested 28 bars of dark chocolate for heavy metals and found cadmium and lead in every single one, making this snack potentially dangerous for people of all ages. Over time, even low levels of exposure to heavy metals can cause issues with the neurological system, high blood pressure, and even renal failure.
The good news is that you don’t have to give up chocolate altogether; five of the bars tested by Consumer Reports had low levels of cadmium and lead. Dark chocolates can be produced with reduced levels of heavy metals, demonstrating that chocolatiers have the ability to provide customers with safer options.
Because of their greater cacao content, dark chocolates often contain more heavy metals than milk chocolates. Furthermore, lead and cadmium appear to enter cacao via distinct pathways, necessitating distinct approaches to remediation.
Changes in harvesting and processing methods, such as drying beans on clean tarps away from highways, are required to minimize lead in cacao. Cautionary breeding or genetic modification of plants to take in less of the heavy metal might contribute to cadmium reduction.
Moreover, cadmium levels can be reduced by combining beans from higher-cadmium areas with beans from lower-cadmium areas, as well as by conducting surveys of cacao-growing regions to evaluate cadmium levels.
Safely enjoying chocolate involves more than just picking the right dark chocolate. Moderation in the consumption of dark chocolate, the pursuit of chocolate with lower levels of heavy metals, and the avoidance of various sources of heavy metal exposure can all contribute to a decreased risk of exposure.
When everything is said and done, dark chocolate may still be consumed safely, provided that the risks are recognized and mitigated.