Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Researchers found a way to reinvent chocolate and make it healthier

Published Jun 6th, 2024 2:40PM EDT
Closeup of dark chocolate chips with a bowl of peanut butter
Image: MSPhotographic/Adobe

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

Healthier chocolate might sound a bit ironic. After all, chocolate is normally made by adding loads of refined sugar to components from the cacao plant. While dark chocolate has less refined sugar, it’s still not as healthy for you as it could be. That’s why scientists have been looking for ways to recreate the chocolate recipe, and now, they’ve done just that.

Chocolate is made by taking portions of the cacao plant and turning them into what we call a cocoa mass. This mass is made up of the pulp and seeds found inside the pods of the cacao plant. Combined with the aforementioned refined sugar and loads of saturated fatty acids from cocoa butter from the fruit, chocolate becomes a snack loaded with ingredients that can increase the risk of health issues.

So, to make a healthier chocolate, researchers led by scientists from ETH Zurich went back to square one. They decided to try to make chocolate using as much of the cocoa fruit as they could. This would help cut down on the refined sugar needed to make the snack and thus help make it a healthier alternative to traditional chocolates found on the market today.

Dark chocolate stack and fresh organic blueberries on wooden table.
Even dark chocolate is loaded with refined sugar despite being touted as a healthier option. Image source: Natalie Barth/Adobe

To do this, they used fruit from the Theobroma cacao tree. They started by transforming the fleshy seeds found inside the pods using an extensive fermentation process, followed by roasting and grinding. This turned the seeds and their pulpy outer covering into a fine paste, which they used to make the cocoa mass base of the chocolate.

From there, they took the fiber-rich inner wall of the pod, which is called the endocarp, and dried it. They then broke it down into a powdered form and combined it with juice from the pulp to create a sweet gel, which they used to replace the refined carbohydrates found in traditional chocolate recipes. Combining everything together, they were able to make healthier chocolate that offers a perfect balance of flavor and mouth-feel, the researchers say.

What’s even more impressive is that the new chocolate was as sweet as traditional chocolate without all the refined sugar that you’d normally find in the recipe. It’s a huge step forward for creating healthier options for people to enjoy for years to come, and hopefully, we could see this new chocolate appearing on store shelves going forward. The researchers published their findings in Nature Foods.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.