Chocolate is known as a healthy treat when enjoyed in moderation, but it could become even more salubrious if manufacturers embraced new technology for making "fruit-juice-infused chocolate," a new study has concluded.
Stefan A. F. Bon, Ph.D., who led the research, explained that the technology would allow manufacture of chocolate with fruit juice, vitamin C water or diet cola replacing up to 50 percent of the fat.
The juice is in the form of micro-bubbles that help chocolate retain the lush, velvety "mouth-feel" - the texture that is firm and snappy to the bite and yet melts in the mouth. The process also prevents "sugar bloom," the unappetizing white film that coats the surface of chocolate that has been on the shelf for a while.
"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," Bon said.
Chocolate`s high fat and sugar content is a downside, compared to its high levels of healthful plant-based substances termed antioxidants or flavonoids, Bon explained.
A 2-ounce serving of premium dark chocolate may contain 13 grams of fat, 20 percent of the total daily fat recommended for a person who eats 2,000 calories per day. Much of that fat is the unhealthy saturated variety. Substituting fruit juice or cola also reduces the overall sugar content of the candy.
The technology works with dark, milk and white chocolate. Bon`s team at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom has made chocolate infused with apple, orange and cranberry juice.
"Fruit-juice-infused candy tastes like an exciting hybrid between traditional chocolate and a chocolate-juice confectionary," he said.
But since the juice is spread out in the chocolate, it doesn`t overpower the taste of the chocolate, according to Bon.
Their new and healthy approach was presented at the 245th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world`s largest scientific society.