The Not So Sweet Side of Dark Chocolate: What Breastfeeding Moms Should Know

By Katie Black 


It’s the time of year when partners, friends, and classmates give (and receive!) valentines in the form of teddy bears, flowers, heart shaped candies and of course, lots and lots of chocolate. And while these sweet gestures are a great way to show affection and appreciation to loved ones, you might want to double check those dark chocolates you plan on giving (or eating), especially if the recipient or you are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

You might be thinking, “but I’ve heard dark chocolate is good for you!” and in some ways it is with its high antioxidant count and low sugar content, but that’s not the whole story. 

Recently, scientists from Consumer Reports, a nonprofit dedicated to independently testing and investigating consumer goods, looked at 23 different popular and less known dark chocolate bars on the market for heavy metals. They found lead and cadmium in each bar. 

The reason this might be concerning for pregnant or breastfeeding moms is because heavy metals can cross the placenta, or get into breast milk. Lead in particular can hurt brain development and its effects are worse in babies and young children. Too much exposure can cause developmental issues and even lower IQ. Right now, researchers do not agree on a “safe” amount of lead or cadmium exposure—just that the less there is the better. 

But you don’t have to break up with dark chocolate for good! Just try to enjoy it occasionally and in moderation and find chocolate with the lowest levels of heavy metals. 

Consumer Reports found five of the bars contained levels of cadmium and lead under the maximum allowable dose level for California. These bars are: 

  • Mast Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cacao
  • Taza Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cacao
  • Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight 72% Cacao
  • and Valrhona Abinao Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao. 

It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor if you’re concerned about heavy metal exposure and your little one. Lactation Lab's Premium Kit can be used to test your breast milk for lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. Your Premium Kit results come with dietary recommendations unique to you and will offer suggestions on how to reduce exposure to heavy metal present in the foods you may be consuming. 



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