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Swiss researchers invent healthier, more sustainable chocolate

Cocoa fruit
Parts of the cocoa fruit, usually discarded, can be used to 'improve' chocolate. KEYSTONE/Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Scientists at federal technology institute ETH Zurich have developed a new type of chocolate that is more sustainable and richer in nutrients than using conventional production methods, as presented in a study published on Tuesday.

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ETH Zurich researchers replaced granulated sugar in their chocolate with parts of the cocoa fruit that are not used in conventional chocolate. They presented the new recipe in a study in the specialist journal Nature Food.

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In addition to the cocoa beans, the pulp and parts of the fruit peel are also found in the chocolate, as the university writes in a statement about the study.

The researchers processed the shell of the cocoa beans into a powder, which they mixed with the pulp to make a jelly. With this extremely sweet jelly, the researchers replaced the sugar that is normally added.

The laboratory chocolate contains more fiber and less saturated fatty acids than normal chocolate, making it healthier, the study shows. Small farmers could also benefit, according to the ETH. They could diversify their product range and increase their income by using more parts of the cocoa fruit.

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According to ETH, finding the perfect recipe for the cocoa fruit chocolate was not easy for the researchers. Because too much of the juice obtained from the pulp causes the chocolate to clump, too little of it makes it not sweet enough.

In the laboratory, the scientists therefore had to systematically test the consistency of the different compositions.

The experiments showed that you can add a maximum of 20% jelly to a chocolate, which corresponds to the sweetness of a chocolate with around 5 to 10% granulated sugar. For comparison: 30 to 40% granulated sugar is quickly added to conventional dark chocolate.

However, it will still be a while before the chocolate can be bought in stores. First, the entire value chain must be completed, explained ETH. But a first step has been taken: the recipe for the cocoa fruit chocolate has been registered as a patent by the ETH.

Translated from German by DeepL/mga

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