It almost sounds too good to be true. Scientists from the University of Warwick recently found a healthy way to reduce up to half of the fat content in chocolate. The secret lies in fruit juice, more specifically orange and cranberry juice that has gone through a specific process called Pickering emulsion.
According to ScienceDaily, this technique maintains the structure of the fat, which gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm and breakable texture but which also allows it to melt smoothly in the mouth. The technique does make the chocolate taste a bit fruity, but researchers say that there is the option to use water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of juice to maintain a more true chocolate flavor.
While it's unclear as to whether or not food manufacturers will take this new science and use it, it's quite likely, says Lauren Schmitt, registered dietitian, personal trainer, and owner of Healthy Eating And Training Inc. After all, who doesn't like chocolate?
"It's exciting to see that they used something natural instead of something man-made or something that's fat-reduced but then the salt or sugar is increased in order to make it a tasty product," Schmitt says. "You'll still get sugar from the fruit juice, but it's natural sugar as opposed to saturated fat so it's better."
What's a gal to do until these new lower-fat and fruity chocolate products hit the market? Schmitt says to choose goodies with a higher cacao percentage, as cacao is filled with antioxidants. And, of course, be moderate with your consumption.
"It's hard to set one standard because everyone has different weight, health conditions, and goals. Obviously, don't make eating chocolate a daily thing," she says. "Occasionally, if someone is having dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao, it's fine. I would limit it to one ounce per snacking."
Are you a chocoholic? Excited about this new science? Let's chat about it!