According to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, chocolate can be healthier and tastier when engaged in an electric shock treatment. A team of scientists from the Temple University in Hong Kong, upon request of Mars Inc, one of the largest chocolate companies in the world, started working with different techniques to discover how to modify milk chocolate’s viscosity without adding any substances. During the process, researchers found out that electric treatment that affects chocolate’s composition cutting down the fat up to 20 percent.
The investigation makes a diagnosis: Chocolate is one of the most popular flavors in the world. However, the amount of fat in this type of food usually is linked to obesity and other health problems. To surpass this issue, most chocolate companies started introducing low-calorie substances to substitute the original fat in the product, however, this affects the flavor and viscosity of the chocolate.
The science behind the findings
The investigation was based on the basic science of soft matter and the viscosity of liquid suspension and density. They applied unconventional electrorheology to modify melted chocolate’s behavior and texture.
The electric charge was enforced in the flow direction, affecting the cocoa particles and breaking the symmetry, increasing the density of the chocolate. The fat level can be reduced since microstructure of the chocolate changes. Electricity can keep the mixture moving, allowing the particles to flow without needed extra cocoa butter or any other substance of fat to stream. Lower fat levels translate into healthier and tastier chocolate.
Scientists explained this with the idea of smart liquids and how they behave while receiving zaps with electricity. Smart liquids are usually industrial fluids but with this research, it was discovered that melted chocolate acts as a smart liquid.
The leader of the investigation was Rongjia Tao, an investigator from the Department of Physics at the Temple University, and with Hong Tang, another scientist from the department they patented the application of an electric field to chocolate production.
The effect on the market
These findings can now change the way big companies are producing low-fat chocolate, or at least it will change the way Mars Chocolate Inc is producing chocolate since the company provided funding to the investigation.
Before this study, companies had to change the recipes and affect the flavor and texture of the chocolate if they wanted to keep it low-fat. Now, applying electricity to the formula, chocolate can be low-fat without changing the recipe.
Not everyone agrees
Some food scientists from the Sensory Evaluation Center at Penn State University John Hayes considered, however, that cocoa butter and fat are major elements to the uniqueness of chocolate since the melting properties of the product entirely depend on those substances.
Low-fat chocolates can end up being powdery, what could change the essence of the chocolate completely. However, the quality and taste or texture of electric-shock derived low-fat chocolates will be revealed if the technology is implemented in the real world.
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences