Researchers Say They Can Now Zap the Fat Out of Chocolate

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Attention, fatphobic chocoholics: Researchers may have found a way to zap the fat content right out of chocolate — literally.

A group led by Rongjia Tao, a Temple University professor of physics who has expertise in fluid dynamics, has discovered that the flow of chocolate in liquid form (as it is during the manufacturing process) may be improved by running it through an electric field, thus lowering the level of fat needed to make it flow.

Chocolate usually contains between 40 and 60 percent fat, which is key to its ability to flow. But the members of Tao’s team, who published their findings, “Electrorheology leads to healthier and tastier chocolate,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that they could reduce that amount dramatically with a boost from an electrical charge. (The study was partly financed by the candy maker Mars, the Associated Press reports.)

“This microstructure change reduces the viscosity in the flow direction and enables us to reduce the fat level by 10–20 percent,” the researchers wrote in their study abstract. “A new class of healthier and tastier chocolate should come soon.”

Healthier, sure. But tastier?

“The treated chocolate has [a] wonderful taste,” Tao was quoted as saying in a Temple University news release. “Some people even claim that the [electrorheology]-treated chocolate has a slightly stronger cocoa flavor, better than the original chocolate.”

Some food scientists have responded skeptically, noting that Tao’s group didn’t actually research taste or texture.

So it’s not clear whether to file this one under “It’s about time” or “Too good to be true.” Guess we’ll just have to wait and see — and go with the flow.

Photo courtesy of iStock