Last week, scientists at Temple University published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America where they talked about their achievement of removing fat from chocolate by using electricity.
In 2012, a consulting firm under contract for Mars Incorporated approached Temple physics professor, Rongjia Tao, with a problem that they wanted solved. The consulting firm was seeking a way to lower the content of fat in milk chocolate without decreasing the taste or thickness of the product. Tao figured out that by creating an electric field around the chocolate while it is in its liquid state, up to 20 percent of fat was removed from the decadent dessert.
Tao’s task of lowering the fat content in chocolate was hindered by the fact that he was not able to use low-calorie fat substitutes. In order to complete the task, “new technology based on new soft matter science is critically needed.”
The fat-removing process begins with milk chocolate in liquid form. In order to keep the finished chocolate products solid, manufacturers use a combination of fat and cocoa butter to achieve their desired hardness. The chocolate experiment found that liquid chocolate behaves in ways similar to how smart fluids react. Smart fluid properties have the ability to respond to electronic impulses, which is how this experiment was able to be a success.
Tao and his team zapped the liquid chocolate with electricity, and the electricity simultaneously lowered the chocolate’s viscosity while increasing its density. Electricity could not haphazardly be shot at the river of milk chocolate. In order to have sustainable results, the electrical field had to hit the chocolate parallelly. By creating the parallel field, the shape and structure of the chocolate is changed at the molecular level to take the shape of a chain. This shape enhances the strength needed by decreasing the viscosity.
The results have also proved that this process can be improved with more testing and manipulation.
“In our ER treatment we have not reached the optimal solution for viscosity reduction; some particles may not be aggregated into short chains.”
When Mars approached Tao about lowering the fat content in their chocolate, they wanted to make sure that taste was not compromised just for the sake of removing fat. As with many products that are diet, the taste is considerably different from the non-fat product.
“Some people… claim that the ER-treated chocolate has a slightly stronger cocoa solid flavor, better than the original chocolate.”
Chocolate Facts That Will Shock You
- In the United States, the chocolate industry generates $34.5 billion in sales each year.
- Chocolate is believed to have become an aphrodisiac during the time period of the Aztecs.
- Switzerland leads the world in chocolate consumption. On average, each person in Switzerland eats 22 pounds of chocolate each year.
Health Benefits Of Chocolate
- Studies show that some women who eat 45 grams per week had decreased their chances of having a stroke by up to 20 percent.
- Eating chocolate has been shown to reduce blood pressure and reduce problems related to heart disease.
- Dark chocolate breaks an old wives tale by actually improving the look and health of skin.
- Eating chocolate has been shown to release chemicals in the brain that lower stress.
- Some studies have shown that people who eat chocolate may be increasing their intelligence.
- Chocolate has been shown to improve the blood flow throughout the body. With increased blood flow comes improved vision.
Do you think this new chocolate study is going to end up being a big deal for the industry?
[Image Via Shutterstock/Drozhzhina Elena]