The People's Chemist

Truth About Organic Chocolate: Where to Get The Best!

The average organic shopper is totally clueless about the HARMFUL ingredients contained in so-called “organic” chocolate. Sugar, sugar, and more sugar and zero nutrients…you’re better off eating cardboard organic chocolate! 

Real chocolate is non-existent.  With the advent of Pharmafoods, chocolate imposters are an epidemic in our stores, as outlined in my book, Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded.  

If you think you “love” chocolate, it’s really just sugar and synthetic mimics of nature you’ve fallen in love with. 

As if that weren’t bad enough, the chocolate you’ve been eating may also contain lead and cadmium. Recent lab tests showed that 62% of organic chocolates contained lead and/or cadmium — including chocolate sold at Whole Foods.

This information is not something to be complacent about!

Even small amounts of lead is toxic to children and is associated with neurological impairment, such as learning disabilities and lower IQ. And cadmium can damage the kidney, liver, bones, and reproductive system in humans.

Obviously, when I saw a new chocolate on the shelf – HNINA – I was skeptical.  Almost cynical.

We need another organic chocolate like we need another Dr. Oz.

Almost weekly there’s a new chocolate adorned with pretty paper and ludicrous health claims – anti-stress chocolate, energizing chocolate, better sex….blah blah blah.

It was Skyler, my 1 year old, who kicked and pointed to HNINA.

I read the ingredients.  Promising.

I tore open the box to get him a sample.

Skyler gave everything he had to say more – Mo, Mo, Mo.

Then I tasted it.  We were both hooked.

I paid for the empty box and grabbed a few more to take home.

Then, I called HNINA to learn more.

As a child, Vanessa grew up in Paris. She experienced a multicultural background that entailed savoring delicious foods from France, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Tunisia. Recently she has lived in New York City and Los Angeles.

While pregnant with her twins in 2010, she was craving dark chocolate, but she didn’t want to risk giving herself diabetes, which runs in her family. All the organic chocolate products she found on the market were crap, so Vanessa decided to make her own chocolates.

Thus, HNINA was born.

If you’ve ever gotten scammed into buying inferior “organic” chocolate products from your local hippie grocery store, then the following interview with Vanessa is a must-read!

Her chocolate is also a “must-buy!”  (No, I’m not getting rich on some silly affiliate program.  I buy mine just like you do.)  Get yours at

1. Back in 2010 when you were pregnant with your twins, what was your experience like when trying to find a good chocolate product in stores?

I could not find anything. The taste was not there — which is due to the fact that most raw “organic” chocolate producers choose to recompose the cacao mass by adding cacao butter and cacao powder.  This means it’s processed, which takes away the nutrients and flavor. (It’s treated with an alkalizing agent to modify its color and give it a milder taste.)

Also, practically all the chocolate products had emulsifiers and sugar. Therefore, the essential chocolate taste was usually replaced with sweetness. There was nothing I could find that satisfied me. Trust me, I looked everywhere and considered every possible brand at the time.

2. What differences have you noticed between organic chocolates sold in the U.S., and those sold abroad? Is there any country that seems to have the highest-quality organic chocolates?

The best chocolates I’ve ever had were in France, Italy and Belgium. The criteria over there are very different. We are all about “tasting” a balance of flavors, aromas, and textures from nature. We love our grand cru cacao (which means “single origin chocolate”). Before I began selling HNINA, this did not exist in the US. Chocolate here is simply made of processed sugar or other processed sweeteners.

3. What are the 5 most UNHEALTHY ingredients or qualities found in many so-called “organic” chocolates?

#1 – Sugar (I include here ANY processed sugar). It’s the most acidic ingredient you can find on the market. It provokes inflammation, obesity, diabetes and so many other health issues. It doesn’t belong in chocolate.

#2 – Palm oil. Most of the time, it’s heated at a very high temperature and is already rancid by the time you eat your chocolate. Rancid oils are potentially carcinogenic.

#3 – Emulsifiers. An emulsifier is an agent added to smooth texture and keep fats and other liquids together harmoniously in the formula or preparation. They’re very often used in cosmetics…and in chocolate! Emulsifiers can provoke glucose intolerance, inflammatory gut disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and therefore obesity. By the way, emulsifiers very often come from soy, which is usually GMO (genetically modified) unless it’s organic.

#4 – Dairy. Dairy may not be a sugar per se, but it has been related to obesity, as it contains lactose and maltose. Both are “sugar” even if their structure is slightly different.

#5 – Wax. To make your chocolate look shiny, harder, and beautiful and to avoid the very hard to deal with “tempering process” (tempering is challenging as the crystallization curve of chocolate must follow a very strict path, otherwise it does not look really good), many chocolate manufacturers are using paraffin wax. Paraffin wax comes from petroleum, is flammable when overheated, and is also a chemical preservative. It contains volatile compounds of formaldehyde, vinyl chloride, and produces carcinogens when burned.

4. Your website says the nuts and seeds in your products “are raw, not fumigated or radiated.” Can you please explain to readers the dangers of fumigated/radiated nuts (and how common of a practice this is)?

Fumigating and radiating nuts and seeds kill the enzymes they naturally contain. A nut or a seed is like a little grain that needs to grow into a flower. When you give it water and nutrients, life comes in. If you irradiate or fumigate, the plant is dead and will never sprout. It is as simple as this. And unfortunately, other chocolate products are using these “dead” nutrients.

5. You also mention your nuts and seeds are “unpasteurized” and “sprouted.” Why is this important to you?

Pasteurized means “heat-treated” (i.e., no longer raw).

Our nuts are unpasteurized. That means we don’t use nuts that have been heated at a very high temperature to get rid of the enzymes they naturally contain in order to prolong its shelf life considerably.

When we sprout the nuts and seeds, their chemistry is completely different from ones that are “dead.”

Texture is the #1 benefit of sprouting. All the phytic acid (which is an enzyme inhibitor) is removed. The nut or seed keeps all of its natural enzymes, nutrients, protein, and finally becomes a flower that is “alive.”

Then comes the taste. When we sprout nuts and seeds, everything changes from the original hard dormant state. BTW it is essential here to mention how challenging it is to find un-radiated or unpasteurized nuts that can be sprouted. I would like to thank all those farmers who are doing an amazing job to keep their beautiful products so alive. Without them, we could not make our chocolate.

6. Your products contain “raw and unpasteurized” honey that is produced by bees directly from the concentrated nectar of flowers. Why is this better than cooked/pasteurized honey?

All the goodness of honey is contained in its enzymes and natural antibiotic, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. When you pasteurize your honey, it simply becomes sugar.

“Live” food is what matters, because it helps your body with digestion. The main reason why so many people have heartburn and acid reflux is because the food they eat has been depleted of its natural enzymes. Our body needs those natural enzymes to digest food easily.

7. Your website says “Pure commercial grade maple syrup and Bourbon vanilla beans are powerful sources of living enzymes, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and proteins.” What kinds of things do organic chocolate companies do to KILL these beneficial sources in their products?

They use “dead” ingredients to extend the shelf life and to save money. Sometimes they’ll use syrup, cane sugar, or agave. They won’t use vanilla beans, but instead will use vanilla extract. All those sweeteners are processed and are much cheaper and easier to find than the non-processed sweeteners.

8. Why do you think a “minimum number of pure ingredients” is better than tons of ingredients?

You put a smile on my face right now…OH YES! If you have the right ingredients, then you need no additives whatsoever: no milk, emulsifier, palm oil, sugar, wax, preservatives, colorant. NOTHING! Start with the purest unprocessed superfood ingredients, maximize their potential (as through sprouting), stay out of their way, and let them do their thing!

9. You use organic maple syrup from Vermont that is dark and thick, and which does not come in any contact with formaldehyde. You mean to tell me other organic chocolate brands actually have maple syrup laced with formaldehyde? Is that common?

The practice of using “formaldehyde” to extract maple syrup from trees has been banned in the U.S. Nevertheless, it’s really good to know the practices of the farm you work with. That’s why we get it certified organic anyway and know that the people in the farm we work with are simply amazing!

10. What is the #1 thing consumers should be aware of when searching for a quality organic chocolate, other than sugar content?

I would say purity and traceability. The closer you get to the original cacao beans, the better it is. The best chocolate has the most cacao concentration. Cacao is a super food. You just need to assess the quality of the product you purchase by making sure it isn’t processed.

About the Author

My name is Shane “The People’s Chemist” Ellison. I hold a master’s degree in organic chemistry and am the author of Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded Edition (SourceBooks). I’ve been quoted by USA Today, Shape, Woman’s World, US News and World Report, as well as Women’s Health and appeared on Fox and NBC as a medicine and health expert. Start protecting yourself and loved ones with my FREE report, 3 Worst Meds.


The People’s Chemist provides these articles for information only. They are not meant to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and do not replace professional medical advice from a medical doctor. I am not a doctor and would only “play doctor” if I was with my wife. In fact, I have not even read Grey’s Anatomy.

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Information provided by The People’s Chemist is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. If you want more detailed information, read Over-The-Counter Natural Cures Expanded. Also, always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or emergency.

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