Be careful! Dark chocolate may not be as ‘healthy’ as we think
We often pick dark chocolate when we are trying to prioritise our health. And rightly so, as it is a great source of antioxidants. But it may not all be good news. American brand Hershey’s recently hit the headlines for having dangerous levels of heavy metals like lead and cadmium in their dark chocolate bars.
So far, studies have proven that dark chocolate is definitely healthier for you when compared to other forms of chocolate. A 2015 study by Catherine P. Bondonno that was published in Nutrition Reviews, a peer-reviewed journal published by the Oxford University Press, found that flavonoids in dark chocolate send signals to our arteries to relax, and, therefore, reduce our blood pressure.
But a news article by ConsumerReports.org found that when they tested the levels of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in 28 types of dark chocolate bars from various brands, the news was not good. Five out of the 28 that were tested were found to have lead and cadmium levels for both cadmium and lead higher than what is considered safe for consumption.
How is it harmful?
High levels of these metals have been proven to be dangerous for consumption. They can cause many types of developmental problems in fetuses, so pregnant women are warned to not have any traces of it in their diet. It is not safe for young kids also because it can cause brain development and lower IQ. According to a study published in the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety journal, lifetime consumption of high levels of cadmium can cause chronic kidney damage.
So what can we do?
Nmami Agarwal, dietitian and nutritionist says, “Well I’d say we have to understand that anything processed can never be healthy. Be it chocolate or health food. Processed means chemicals or harmful additions. But one can’t avoid processed foods in today’s age. So one mantra that I always tell is excess of anything is bad. Be it excess of processed foods or excess of water, everything has to be in moderation.”
She adds that it is best to stick to natural foods, “Going forward the best way to check food safety and avoid processed food is to solve cravings naturally. For sweet cravings, we can use dates and honey. For magnesium, we can try nuts. Find out your cravings and sort them naturally by avoiding processed foods and you are safe!”
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