Chocolate with Half the Fat: Not Too Good to Be True

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To the joy of chocoholics everywhere, a team of chemists at the University of Warwick in Britain have created chocolate with all the smooth creaminess you’re used to, but only half the fat. The secret behind the new and improved bars? Fruit juice.

The scientists removed much of the cocoa butter and milk fats — which are high in triglycerides — that go into chocolate and replaced them with tiny droplets of orange and cranberry juice, each measuring less than 30 microns in diameter. Using a technique called Pickering emulsion, keeps the little droplets from merging together into bigger drops, the scientists infused the juice into milk, dark and white chocolate.

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The process allows the new chocolate to maintain that delectable chocolatey “mouth feel” that is typically imbued by fat. This is because the technique preserves the crystal structure of fat, which is what gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm texture and melt-in-your-mouth smoothness.

“Everyone loves chocolate, but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat,” said lead study author Stefan Bon in a press release. “It’s the fat that gives chocolate all the indulgent sensations that people crave — the silky smooth texture and the way it melts in the mouth but still has a ‘snap’ to it when you break it with your hand. We’ve found a way to maintain all of those things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’ but with fruit juice instead of fat.”

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The trade-off is that the engineered chocolate tastes a little fruity. For a less fruity taste, however, the chemists say water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be used instead of juice.

The authors say their research, published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, should be a launching pad for further endeavors into healthier chocolate. “We’ve established the chemistry behind this new technique, but now we’re hoping the food industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars,” said Bon.

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7 comments
airadam
airadam

Is this then a case of less fat, but more sugar? Sounds like it could actually be worse health-wise...

Ask Leah Renee
Ask Leah Renee

Part of me thinks this is really cool, while another part of me goes back to something I said just a few hours ago, "why are we trying to make junk food healthy?!"  If you're going to have some Pringles, who cares if they're multi-grain, eat some multi-grain bread then!  I think the same goes for chocolate.  Just enjoy sweets amp; treats in moderation, and you don't have to give it much thought :)

Jasmine Davis
Jasmine Davis

Great so they are removing the fat (which is what makes you feel full) and replacing it with sugar - which is converted to fat in your body.  Does anyone else think that this is a bad idea? Give me a small portion of full fat chocolate any day!

Bhups
Bhups

@Jasmine DavisReplacing the fat droplets with fruit juice droplets was just a proof of concept, the fat droplets could just as easily be replaced with water droplets for example. The difficulty was not in which droplets to replace the fat with, but in preventing the droplets from aggregating together (you can do this experiment for yourself at home with some water and oil if you're very keen). Since the water is essentially flavourless the taste of the chocolate will not be effected, but the fat and sugar content will be reduced (the texture will also remain uneffected since the droplets are too small to 'feel' in the mouth).  

smooth edward
smooth edward

I’m hoping this is true, but it sounds a little like the self-serving press releases put out by artificial sweetener scientists and manufacturers when they said, “It tastes exactly like sugar, but with an almost undetectable amount of bitterness.” We all know they taste like paint thinner. When it comes to chocolate, fat is where it’s at.

FamilyT
FamilyT

Will this chemical process diminish any of the considerable health benefits now universally attributed to dark chocolate with a high cocoa per cent?