(NaturalNews) Both ConsumerLab.com and the Natural News Forensic Food Lab have simultaneously confirmed high levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium in cacao powder products. High levels of lead have also been found by Natural News in one brand of cacao powder.
Takeaway points from this research: • High levels of toxic cadmium are consistently found in cacao POWDER products, across many brands.
• Cacao NIBS tend to be significantly lower in cadmium and other heavy metals.
• People who also drink coffee, eat sunflower seeds or smoke cigarettes should be especially cautious about consuming cacao powder because all these items tend to have high cadmium.
• The EU is strictly limiting cadmium levels of cacao products beginning in 2019.
• Why are cacao powders higher in cadmium than nibs? Possibly due, in part, to the extra processing and grinding machinery used to create the powder.
ConsumerLab results agree with Natural News Labs findings
ConsumerLab is an independent product testing organization with over 200,000 members. They test products for heavy metals contamination, label compliance, active chemical constituents and more. (Click here for membership details.)
One of the products tested by ConsumerLab was Navitas Naturals cacao powder. I spoke with Dr. Cooperman, the founder of ConsumerLab, who informed me that they found .950 ppm cadmium in the Navitas sample.
This is very similar to the cadmium concentration I recently shared on the Doctor Oz show, in which I stated cacao products often showed cadmium levels of around .900 ppm.
Natural News Lab results show similar numbers
All the cacao powder products we tested showed cadmium concentrations of 1 ppm or higher. As you can see from the results here, cadmium concentrations are alarmingly high in many cacao products, frequently exceeding 1000 ppb (1 ppm). Brands whose cacao products showed high cadmium include Kiva, Essential Living Foods, Sunfood, Pure Natural Miracles and Navitas. Notably, Essential Living Foods ranked very clean on lead results with its "Peruvian cacao nibs" which showed ZERO lead (which is very unusual and difficult to find).
Unfortunately, this was from a sample of Peruvian Cacao that ELF sent us back in 2012, with no lot number, so I can't say whether they have the same Peruvian Cacao available right now. (Hopefully they do!)
The only cacao products found to have lower concentrations of cadmium were cacao nibs. Essential Living Foods, Earth Circle Organics and Health Ranger Select brands of cacao nibs all showed relatively low numbers of cadmium.
Cadmium is persistent in cacao and coffee products, by the way. Both tend to bio-accumulate cadmium, concentrating it in the plant at much higher levels than what is found in the soil. There is no nutritive benefit to cadmium -- it is a toxic heavy metal linked to kidney damage, cardiovascular disease, skin disorders and more. Fortunately, cadmium tolerance in humans is much higher than lead tolerance, which is why California Prop 65 allows more than 800% more cadmium than lead.
However, Natural News has just learned that the EU is banning cacao products with high cadmium levels starting in 2019. Many of the products listed here will be illegal to sell in the EU once this regulation takes effect. We'll be reporting more details on this shortly, including quoting the new EU regulation.
The highest cadmium we found was in Kiva brand Cacao Powder, which consistently measured over 2.4 ppm -- a similar level to what we recently found in some rice protein products.
For this reason, I recommend consuming cacao NIBS instead of cacao POWDERS in order to reduce your exposure to cadmium. In fact, we only currently sell cacao nibs (not cacao powder) under the Health Ranger Select brand for this very reason.
Pacari is a well-known cacao producer, and I previously met the company founder in Ecuador. Their cacao powder has a very nice, rich taste. But this high level of lead is very concerning to me because it stands out as considerably higher than every other source of cacao we've tested.
For superfood powders, there are typically two explanations for where lead may potentially come from:
#1) Contaminated soils #2) Machine parts used to grind cacao into powder
Metal machine parts, believe it or not, can contribute significant quantities of lead to a superfood if the grinding parts themselves contain even a small percentage of lead. This might be one area where Pacari could possibly reduce the level of lead in their final product.
Other metals: Mercury, arsenic, aluminum, copper and more
MERCURY: We did not find any concerning levels of mercury in any products tested.
ARSENIC: Concentrations of arsenic were also not a concern.
COPPER: The highest copper concentration we found was 46 ppm in the Pure Natural Miracles brand. Because copper is both an essential nutrient (at low levels) and a toxin (at very high levels), it's important to keep your total copper intake at a reasonable level. The biggest offender with getting too much copper is through multivitamins, some of which contain over 2000 ppm copper. I do not consider the copper levels found in any of these cacao products to be a concern.
ALUMINUM: There were no concerning levels of aluminum found in any of the products we tested.
ZINC: Zinc is an essential nutrient and most people don't get enough. The Pure Natural Minerals brand of cacao powder had the highest zinc at 100 ppm.
Summary of results
Overall, what's clear from these results is that cadmium is very persistent across all cacao products. This is no doubt why the EU is cracking down on cadmium contamination in cacao. Lead is rare to find at concerning levels in cacao, fortunately, and all the other heavy metals seem to be consistently low.
In our own sourcing of raw materials, even we were hard-pressed to find cacao powder with cadmium below 1 ppm. Only cacao nibs were found to consistently beat this number, which is why we stopped carrying cacao powder under our own brand. My goal is to make sure everything we sell under the Health Ranger Select brand is rated "A" or better, which requires cadmium to be below 1 ppm. Because most people are blending cacao into smoothies, the use of nibs is just as convenient as powders, yet with substantially less cadmium.
Be careful if you also drink coffee or smoke cigarettes
People who eat cacao and drink coffee need to be especially mindful of their total daily intake of cadmium. Both of these foods tend to accumulate cadmium, so if you're eating both you can easily take in 10, 20 or even 30 micrograms per day.
In addition to his lab work, Adams is also the (non-paid) executive director of the non-profit Consumer Wellness Center (CWC), an organization that redirects 100% of its donations receipts to grant programs that teach children and women how to grow their own food or vastly improve their nutrition. Click here to see some of the CWC success stories.
With a background in science and software technology, Adams is the original founder of the email newsletter technology company known as Arial Software. Using his technical experience combined with his love for natural health, Adams developed and deployed the content management system currently driving NaturalNews.com. He also engineered the high-level statistical algorithms that power SCIENCE.naturalnews.com, a massive research resource now featuring over 10 million scientific studies.