Do you feel in need of a pick me up, celebration, or are craving something sweet?
One of your most-likely go-tos is chocolate. Cacao and its products, such as chocolate, have been a popular form of sustenance and taste satisfaction since first discovered.
Not only does it taste amazing on its own, but it is a popular flavoring for some of the most well-known desserts and culinary creations. For some, it even works as a mood elevator, making it a popular treat when sadness strikes.
Unfortunately, as with many of the most beloved treats for human consumption, it can contain a chemical element. Cadmium, which is commonly found in many cacao powders, can lead to harm when consumed in large quantities.
Lucky for you I’ve managed to find some fantastic cacao powders with a low amount of heavy metals.
We can’t guarantee that the cacao powders will be 100% without heavy metals or cadmium. But based on my research these are what I found to be within a safe amount.
What is Cadmium?
Cadmium is classified as a non-essential metal that is often found in the soil. Its creation is the result of both anthropogenic and natural processes, such as fires, erosion, volcanic activity, river bed sediment, and rock weathering.
The anthropogenic process that aids in the formation of cadmium is most often the result of an industrial intervention, such as irrigation and fertilization. Since cadmium is not found in the human body, nor is it used by it, it can become toxic.
Over time and repeated use, it will accumulate in the kidneys, bones, and liver.
Why is Cadmium Present in Most Cacao Plants?
Cadmium is in the soil that is readily available for uptake into the roots of cacao plants and trees. Since the root uptake in cacao trees is often higher, there will typically be higher cadmium levels in them.
Even though they may absorb less, here still has been a significant level found in cacao beans even when they are growing in soil that has lower cadmium levels. The cadmium in cacao is absorbed by the roots of the plants through ion absorption.
It is then transported to the leaves and the fruit. Different cacao varieties will absorb the cadmium differently, leading to certain ones being lower-accumulating than others.
Where Are the Highest Levels of Cadmium in Soil?
When it comes to cadmium levels in the soil, it varies from region to region. The levels are largely dependent on the natural structures of the area as well as the chemicals used for regional agriculture.
When cacao plants are in areas with high levels of cadmium in the soil, they are more likely to absorb higher levels themselves. Areas such as Denmark, the Netherlands, and Latin America tend to have higher levels of cadmium in the soil.
The increased levels in Denmark and the Netherlands are often linked to increased use of fertilizers, where Latin American areas are the result of more natural occurrences.
Areas in West Africa and North America tend to have lower levels. So when choosing your cacao powder, it is important to know its origin and whether or not chemical fertilizers were used in the growing process.
What Happens When You Ingest a Lot of Cadmium?
While smoking can deliver the highest amount of cadmium in the body, 90% of cadmium exposure occurs through the ingestion of it. The absorption of cadmium is particularly low, usually between 3 and 5%. But it can be considered highly intrusive in the body due to its extremely long biological half-life, between 10 and 30 years.
Cadmium will remain the longest in the kidneys and liver, which can lead to kidney disease and possibly cancer. Other possible problems that can occur from heavy or prolonged consumption include bone demineralization, stomach irritation, cramps, nausea, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.
How Much Cadmium Ingestion is Safe?
For most of the North American population, the average dietary intake is between 30 and 50 micrograms a day. This amount is typically considered safe. Most incidences of severe cadmium exposure come from over ingestion of cadmium and ingesting products that contain cadmium from parts of the world where cadmium levels in the soil are higher.
While many cocoa powders are found to have higher levels of cadmium, with an average of 1 to 1.5 mcg per gram, dark chocolate will have around 1/10th of the concentration. Even though cacao powder is used in dark chocolate, there is less used than in other chocolate creations.
In addition to cocoa powder, dark chocolate will contain cocoa butter and sugar, which makes up the largest portion of it. These additional ingredients help to reduce the concentration of cadmium. Another reason dark chocolate may contain less cadmium is if the cacao used in it is grown in specific areas.
There are higher levels of concentrations of cadmium in the soil in various parts of the world, such as Latin America. So if the cocoa powder used to make the dark chocolate is from an area with lower concentration levels of cadmium, less will absorb into the plant.
Cocoa Powder Without Cadmium
Are there lead and cadmium free cocoa powders that are worth trying?
Cacao powders are unlikely to be 100% free from cadmium. However, I’ve tried my best to research Cacao powders with the lowest amount of Cadmium.
My research was based on third party laboratory tests.
So although the cacao powders may not be totally cadmium-free, they certainly contain the lowest.
1. Valrhona Poudre De Cacao Cocoa Powder
Valrhona is one of the Cacao powders with the lowest amount of Cadmium. It also is sugar-free and is made from 100% pure cocoa powder. Many describe the taste as intense and delicious.
Researching I found there are a ton of positive reviews. A common theme is that this Cacao powder has a rich taste, smell, and texture. Definitely a high-quality Cacao powder for an affordable price.
- Dissolves easy
- Low Cadmium
- 100% cocoa powder
- Amazing tasting.
2. Volupta Cacao Powder
Volupta Cacao Powder is organic and fair trade. Looking at the nutritional information it has no sugars. So it won’t cause an insulin spike.
Likewise, like all well-sourced cacao powder, it contains flavanols. Flavanols are great antioxidants. Their benefits are numerous. They include helping cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, and even improving brain function.
Independently tested, it ranked low in Cadmium and within the safe range.
The majority of reviews online are very positive. Common themes seem to be, that this cacao powder tastes great with a rich and potent flavor.
Voluptas website also has a great selection of recipes to help you create some tasty snacks, smoothies, cereal or desserts.
- No added sugar
- Tastes great
- Organic and fair trade
- Tested low in cadmium
3. Dagoba Cacao Powder
Dagoba is a company that is owned by Hershey. Their Cacao powder is organic and full of rich flavors.
Sourced directly from the Dominican Republic, Tanzania and Peru.
It’s important to note that Dagoba is not fair trade certified but is rainforest alliance certified. Rainforest Alliance certified means that the cacao beans were made through ethical and sustainable practices.
- Zero Sugars
- Great Flavour
- Rainforest alliance certified
4. Mamamuti Cacao Powder
I like how Manumuti have tested their own product to verify the safe levels of cadmium.
Many companies that produce cacao powder do not bother to test the levels of Cadmium in their products. The fact that Manumuti do, show they care about the safety and quality of their cacao powder.
According to their website, Mamamuti cacao powder contains 0.4 part per million of cadmium. The safe levels of cadmium in America are 0.67 parts per million of cadmium.
So Manumati falls well within the safety threshold. Mamamuti is also one of the smaller companies I decided to choose. Interestingly, their ethos is about nourishing through the power of plants. I quite like that..
Also, the name is really catchy. It represents mother earth and also our own mothers who raised us.
- Lab-tested results reveal safe levels of Cadmium
- Certified organic
- Sourced directly from the Peruvian Amazon
5. Pure Natural Miracles Cacao Powder
You fight free radicals with every serving of Pure Natural Miracles Cacao Powder.
According to Body Nutrition, it has been lab-tested and scores well for low cadmium content.
The raw, unprocessed powder is derived from Ecuador and is packed with multiple nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, protein, and fiber.
It is known for providing a rich and dark flavor without the addition of common additives. It is finely ground, which makes it a go-to for bakers looking to seamlessly integrate it into their favorite recipes.
What We Love About This Product
One of the best things about this powder is that it has more antioxidants than blueberries, green tea, and red wine combined. It is also certified organic and dairy-free. We also love the fact that it can work as a mood elevator, making it the perfect addition to your protein shake or morning cup of coffee.