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Posted on: January 25th, 2022

Everyone loves chocolate. With consumers becoming increasingly used to great-tasting healthy foods, scientists are looking at new ways to best deliver bioactive ingredients. And chocolate as a bioactive carrier is generating plenty of research.

Chocolate & Flavor Composition

Chocolate has been associated with many different health benefits throughout history. More modern research has revealed that the components of chocolate with natural antioxidant properties are responsible for many of the perceived health benefits.

Flavonoids found in cocoa are epicatechin, catechins, and procyanidin, with procyanidin providing the most antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate in particular has a high concentration of procyanidin, which has shown potential to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

The high appeal chocolate’s flavor, along with its natural antioxidant properties, makes it a top choice for creating healthy or medicinal variations.

Problems with Chocolate: Replicating Taste & Texture

The main hurdle chocolate needs to jump over in order to seriously be considered for use as a bioactive carrier is sugar content. Chocolate products are often loaded with sugar, which can affect everything from blood sugar to blood pressure. Alternative sweeteners have not been able to replicate the taste of sweetened chocolate.

Finding a suitable replacement for sugar is difficult for one reason: not all chocolate is created the same way. Adding sweeteners on top of probiotics or bioactives makes flavoring tricky. Dark chocolate with alternative sweeteners tastes different from milk chocolate using the same sweeteners. Finding what chocolate works best with different alternative sweeteners and other nutraceutical ingredients is an ongoing process.

Sugar also aids in texture, and the absence of sugar has posed a challenge to creating similar textures in chocolates made with alternative sweeteners. Other ‘texture’-related factors like viscosity and melt-rate have proved hard to replicate in chocolate made with alternative sweeteners.

Chocolate made with Alternative Sweeteners & Bioactives

The most popular alternative sweeteners currently being used for chocolate are erythritol, stevia, polydextrose, and inulin. Along with alternative sweeteners, ‘healthy chocolate’ research has also been adding probiotics, peptides, and fruit & vegetable components or purees.

Another challenge in adding sweeteners and bioactives to chocolate is understanding when to add them in the chocolate-making process. Adding bioactives and other ingredients at the start of the process or adding them to a mixed batch of chocolate in other ways (‘extras’ like nuts, pretzels) can lead to different product qualities and are just two of the methods being researched.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.

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