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Food Basics: Fats

Can science make chocolate healthier?

A group of researchers have found a way to do just that by using the power of electricity. Giving the chocolate an electric shock reduces the amount of fat mixed into the chocolate by 20 percent!

Chocolate begins its life as a liquid made up of three parts: cocoa solids (which give it its “chocolatey” flavor), sugar, and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a fat. It helps the liquid chocolate travel through the factory machinery as the chocolate is being processed. Without enough cocoa butter, the chocolate becomes too thick and clogs up the pipeline.

Rongjia Tao, Professor of Physics at Columbia University, and his team of researchers were approached to see if they could improve the viscosity of chocolate, without adding more of the fatty cocoa butter. The scientists discovered that zapping the chocolate with electricity changed the shape of the particles that make up the liquid. When you look at chocolate under a microscope, the cocoa solid particles are usually round. If you add an electric shock, you can squash the particles flat. The now flattened particles take up less space and have more room to move around. This creates a smoother flowing liquid.

With this new discovery, companies won’t have to add as much cocoa butter fat to keep the river of chocolate moving, making chocolate a little bit healthier.

To learn more about fats, watch Twig film Food Basics: Fats