Researchers from Zurich have developed a healthier chocolate. What’s more, it’s also better for the climate.

Researchers from Zurich say they have developed a more sustainable and healthier chocolate. In addition to the cocoa beans, they also used additional parts of the cocoa fruit, some of which serve as a sweetener.

“Our process uses only cocoa pod components in the chocolate,” reports the team led by Kim Mishra from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) in the journal “Nature Food”.

“It has a similar sweet taste to conventional chocolate while offering better nutritional value with more fibre and lower saturated fat content.” In addition, the production of this chocolate “on a large scale can reduce land use and global warming potential compared to the average European dark chocolate production,” it says.

Since the cocoa beans only make up a relatively small portion of the fruit, the land area required and thus the greenhouse gas emissions from the conversion of original tropical vegetation per bean are usually high. “Therefore, increased use of other parts of the cocoa pod, such as the pulp and the cocoa shell, could not only contribute to the income diversification of farmers, but also reduce the large environmental impacts during the cultivation phase,” the researchers write.

The elongated cocoa fruit – also called cocoa pod – has a hard outer layer. If you cut the fruit open, you can see the shell and inside the cocoa beans lined up next to each other, each surrounded by light-colored pulp.

In the new process, the cocoa beans from Ghana were roasted, peeled, ground and sterilized as usual, which created the cocoa mass. The team then used the inner part of the cocoa fruit shell and processed it into a powder.

This was mixed with some of the fruit pulp to form a sweet jelly. This replaced the granulated sugar that was normally added to the new chocolate. Despite the additional processing, the authors say that this chocolate recipe is, on average, more environmentally friendly than the conventional one.

According to ETH, the cocoa fruit chocolate has a slightly higher fiber content than an average European dark chocolate thanks to the cocoa jelly used as a sweetener – 15 grams compared to 12 grams per 100 grams.

In addition, it contains only 23 grams of saturated fatty acids compared to 33 grams in an average European dark chocolate.

The researchers write that small farmers could use the new chocolate to market other parts of the fruit and thus earn additional income. Only the outer fruit shell remains, which, according to ETH, is traditionally used mainly as fuel or composted.

It will be some time before the chocolate can be bought. “We have shown that our chocolate is attractive and sensorially comparable,” says Mishra. “But now the entire value chain has to be completed, starting with the cocoa farmers, who need drying facilities.

Only when the food processing company produces enough powder can the cocoa fruit chocolate be produced and marketed on a larger scale by a chocolate producer.” After all, the ETH has applied for a patent for the recipe for the cocoa fruit chocolate.

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