Scientists develop healthy fruit-based chocolate bars
8th April 2013
chocolateIf you are one of many parents around the world who are struggling to get their children to eat the daily recommended ‘five-a-day’ portions of and fruit and vegetables, scientists from Warwick University could have made your life a little easier after developing a variety of healthier chocolate bars that contain half the fat, less sugar, and even have fruit juices inside them! Chocolate could be described as a healthy treat when consumed in moderation due its high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids; which help cholesterol levels and protect against the development of atherosclerosis. Despite this, chocolate’s reputation is not generally known for this, but for the high levels of fat and sugar comprised within it. However, Warwick University researchers claim that if manufacturers embraced new technology for producing ‘fruit-juice-infused chocolate’, we could soon be able to buy much healthier chocolate bars. Stefan A. F. Bon, Ph.D., who led the research, says that the production techniques would allow chocolate to be produced containing a diverse selection of ingredients such as fruit juice like orange, apple, or cranberry, vitamin C and water, or diet cola  - and reducing the fat content by as much as 50% in the process. The new technique can be replicated with all the main types of chocolate, (milk, dark and white), but the researchers do stress that the end product will have a slightly fruity taste to it. It involves replacing the cocoa butter and milk fats within conventional chocolate bars with liquid in the form of ‘micro-bubbles’. This helps to keep intact the chocolate’s velvety ‘mouth-feel’ - texture that is firm and ‘snappy’ to the bite, whilst melting in the mouth. Speaking about the technique at national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, Dr Stefan Bon said: 'We have established the chemistry that's a starting point for healthier chocolate confectionary. This approach maintains the things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’, but with fruit juice instead of fat. Now we're hoping the food industry will take the next steps and use the technology to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars and other candy.” He further added: “Everyone loves chocolate - but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat. However 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.” By using fruit juice this could decrease the high sugar content of chocolate. Dr Bon and his team used fruit juices and other food-approved ingredients to create a ‘pickering emulsion’, whereby the tiny droplets are prevented from merging together. Dr Bon concluded: “Since the juice is spread out in the chocolate, it doesn't overpower the taste of the chocolate. We believe that the technology adds an interesting twist to the range of chocolate confectionary products available. The opportunity to replace part of the fat matrix with water-based juice droplets allows for greater flexibility and tailoring of both the overall fat and sugar content.”