Why You Should Never Touch These Chocolates Again!

Why You Should Never Touch These Chocolates Again!

Written by: Vincent Pedre M.D. | January 10, 2024 | Time to read 8 min


Wait, what?! Did I just explain last month in this blog post the gut-brain benefits of eating chocolate?

Chocolate. The word alone is often enough to spread smiles and spark joy in countless hearts. But, have you ever stopped to think about what's really in that piece of chocolate you're indulging in?

You’re probably thinking: sugar, cacao, chocolate liquor, soy lecithin… if you’ve ever read the ingredients on a bar of chocolate.

So maybe you think the warning above is about the sugar content and how sugar is bad for our health.

And even though that is true, there’s something more indolent lurking inside that bar of chocolate that you cannot see, taste or smell.

Yes, it's true. Recent findings have raised a red flag about harmful substances in chocolate bars, and it's something everyone (no exceptions) need to be aware of IMMEDIATELY!

The Truth Behind Those Tiny Squares of Delight

It's not just about sugar and cocoa. We're talking about heavy metals like lead and cadmiumConsumer Reports' investigation into dark chocolate bars revealed a startling truth: each of the 28 bars they tested contained these harmful heavy metals, with levels concerning enough to pose health risks, especially to children and pregnant women​​. 

Why Heavy Metals Should Alarm You

Let's take a moment to really understand what we're dealing with here. When we talk about lead and cadmium in our chocolate, it's not just a matter of slight contamination; these are neurotoxicants. That's a big word, I know, but it's an important one. Let’s explore.

Neurotoxicants are substances that can wreak havoc on our nervous system. Now, think about what this means, especially for kids. Their brains are still developing, their nervous systems are laying down the pathways for a lifetime of learning, growth, and function. 

When lead and cadmium enter the picture, they can disrupt this delicate process, potentially leading to cognitive development issues. 

It's a scary thought, right? That something as innocent as a piece of chocolate could have such a profound impact.

But it's not just kids who need to worry. Adults, too, can face significant health issues due to these heavy metals. We're talking about effects on memory, concentration, and even coordination.

toxis effects of lead
World Health Organization

The idea that our go-to treat for comfort, celebration, or a bit of self-care could be a source of such harmful substances is more than a little disturbing. It shows how contaminated our world is becoming, and how we can’t not pay attention to environmental contaminants when it comes to our health, just like I talk about in my book, The GutSMART Protocol.

It's a stark reminder that sometimes, even the sweetest things in life can have a hidden, not-so-sweet side. So next time you savor that rich, velvety chocolate, it's worth thinking about the bigger picture⸺what's in it, and how it could be impacting not just your taste buds, but your health as well.

The Bitter Side of Sweet Chocolate

You might be wondering, “How in the world does something as delightful as chocolate end up with heavy metals?” It's quite a tangled story, but let me break it down for you. 

Imagine a cacao farm; these plants are soaking up everything from the soil they grow in. Now, in many of these cacao-growing regions, the soil has a hidden problem. It's often laced with heavy metals like lead and cadmium. 

You'd ask, "Why?" Well, it's a bit of a historical issue – think back to the days of leaded gasoline and other industrial activities that left their mark on the environment. This contamination doesn't just disappear overnight; it lingers in the soil, and unfortunately, our cacao plants end up absorbing it.

But wait, there's more to this story. After the cacao beans are harvested, they go through a whole process to become the chocolate we know and love. This process isn’t always as clean as you’d hope. 

As the cacao beans are turned into cocoa powder or chocolate bars, they can pick up even more heavy metals from the machinery and the processing methods used. It's like a double whammy – first from the soil, and then from the processing. 

This is why when we talk about chocolate, it's not just about indulgence; it’s about understanding the journey from soil to bean to bar. It's a complex chain, and every step of the way matters. So, the next time you unwrap a chocolate bar, remember it’s more than just a treat; it’s a product of its environment and the processes it’s been through.

Safer Chocolate Choices

Now, it's not all doom and gloom. Some brands are doing their part to ensure safer products. Navitas, for example, offers lower levels of heavy metals in their products like Sierra Leone Nibs and Cacao Powder​​. Alter Eco and Wildly Organic are other brands that provide options with lower levels of heavy metals, though it's important to note that no chocolate is entirely free from these contaminants​​​​.

The Role of Transparency and Testing

🍫 Transparency is key. When choosing chocolate, consider brands that openly share their heavy metal testing results. Santa Barbara Chocolate and Botanica Origins, for instance, are commendable for their openness about testing, offering some level of assurance​​​​.

Now, why does this matter to you and me? Well, think about it. Every time we pick a transparent brand, we’re sending a message. We're saying, “We care about what goes into our bodies, and we appreciate your honesty.” This is powerful. It pushes the entire industry towards more ethical, transparent self-policing policies. 

It's not just about avoiding potential risks; it's about supporting brands that value our health as much as their profits. Every chocolate bar from a transparent brand is a step towards a healthier, more honest world of food production. 

So, the next time you're eyeing that chocolate aisle, remember the power of transparency. Let's make choices that are good for our taste buds and our well-being. After all, being informed and making wise choices is not just smart; it’s a way to take care of ourselves and our loved ones, one delicious bite at a time.

Chocolate Alternatives

If you're looking for something different, Australian Carob Co raw carob is a great substitute with significantly lower lead levels​​. And if you have chocolate allergies, a vegan white chocolate like iChoc White Vanilla is a safe bet as it contains cocoa butter but no cocoa/cacao, avoiding the associated lead risks​​. You should also be aware that non-vegan milk chocolate may hide different risks. You can read more about that in my recent blog post here.

The Nutritional Powerhouse: Nourish I Protein Shake

In light of these concerns, the Nourish I Protein Shake (Chocolate Flavor) emerges as a shining star. This vegan meal replacement is not just a safe alternative but a nutritionally dense one. Packed with 15g of protein, 3g of fiber, and 10g of carbs at just 170 calories per serving, it's brimming with 26 micronutrients from real food sources​​. Plus, it's delicious, filling, and free from the worries of heavy metal contamination​​.

Why choose the Nourish I Protein Shake? This isn't just another meal replacement. It's a carefully formulated, vegan-friendly, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free shake packed with essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids​​​​. Manufactured in FDA-registered facilities, it upholds the highest standards of quality and safety​​.

Making Informed Choices

When I heard about the shocking revelation of heavy metals in dark chocolate, it wasn't just a case of 'Oh no, there goes my snack time!' It's way bigger than just switching chocolate brands. It's like every shopping trip is a mini-quiz on 'How to Not Accidentally Eat the Periodic Table.' 

Every item we toss into our cart isn't just a treat or a craving fixer-upper; it's a decision that affects our health, turns our families into unwitting science experiments, and even gives Mother Earth a reason to raise an eyebrow!

Choosing transparent brands or healthier alternatives like the Nourish isn't just about finding a substitute for chocolate, it's about embracing a lifestyle where health and well-being are at the forefront. 

When we opt for products that are clear about their contents, we support brands that value consumer health over hidden ingredients and dubious processing methods. This is how we, as consumers, can drive change towards more responsible and health-conscious food production.

Knowledge Is Your Superpower

In this golden age of information overload, being informed is like having a superpower in the epic quest for health. It's all about playing detective, grilling your groceries like a seasoned interrogator, and not just taking the pretty packaging at face value. 

So, when you reach for that chocolate bar, it's not just a sweet escape; it's more like conducting a full FBI background check on what's about to enter your body. Remember, every bite is a plot twist!

Armed with knowledge, we have the power to make wise choices that protect not only ourselves but also our loved ones from potential health hazards, like hidden heavy metals in dark chocolate. This isn't about fear-mongering; it's about being proactive in our health choices. It's about understanding the long-term implications of what we consume and making decisions that align with a healthy lifestyle. 

So, the next time you're contemplating a chocolate treat, think about the impact of your choice on your body, your brain, and your wellness. Stay healthy, stay informed, and let's embark on this journey of smart choices together!

The Final Word

In conclusion, sure, finding out your beloved chocolate might be moonlighting as a heavy metal concert is a bit unsettling. But hey, it's also a golden ticket to becoming super-sleuth consumers! 

This isn't just about chocolate staging a rock rebellion; it's a larger chat about how the food industry sometimes plays mystery ingredient bingo, our need to be food detectives, and setting our health priorities straight. So next time you're in the candy aisle, remember – it's not just a snack, it's an investigation!

Not only read the labels, but we now have to read BEYOND THE LABELS!

By opting for brands committed to transparency and choosing healthier alternatives like the Nourish I Protein Shake, we're not just making a one-off choice; we're partaking in a movement towards conscious consumption. 

We can continue to enjoy our beloved treats, but now with an added layer of awareness and care for our health and well-being. Let's cherish these moments of indulgence, but with a renewed commitment to making choices that nurture and protect us. Let's not just live, but live well, with every bite we take.

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