What if someone invented a new kind of chocolate with only half the calories of normal chocolate but all the taste?
It sounds too good to be true, but researchers in Britain have discovered an innovative way for chocoholics to enjoy their favourite treat without piling on the kilograms.
Australians eat about six kilograms of chocolate per person every year, and the evidence is there for all to see in our expanding waistlines.
In the quest for healthier chocolate, Dr Stefan Bon and his colleagues from the chemistry department at Warwick University replaced half of the fat in chocolate bars with microscopic droplets of fruit juice.
The new chocolate retains many of the qualities that make chocolate so popular but without all the calories, according to their study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
Lead author Dr Bon said he first came up with the concept for the chocolate project about five years ago.
In the past year he and his team concentrated on what they could do with chocolate formulations, before discovering that by infusing orange juice and cranberry juice into milk, dark, and white chocolate, they could eliminate 50 per cent of the cocoa butter and milk fats that traditionally go into the product.
The discovery “provides a great opportunity to develop exciting new chocolate-based confectionary products,” Dr Bon said. “Everyone loves chocolate – but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat.”
The healthier version still has the melt-in-the-mouth quality chocolate fans love, he said.
“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.
“We've found a way to maintain all of those things that make chocolate 'chocolatey' but with fruit juice instead of fat.”
It remains to be seen whether those with a sweet tooth will soon be able to get their chocolate fix by buying the new chocolate in stores.
Dr Bon said his team had been overwhelmed with interest from all over the world and he hoped a manufacturer for the healthier chocolate was just around the corner.
“Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate – we've established the chemistry behind this new technique but now we're hoping the food industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars.”