Chocolate fans, prepare to be excited because scientists may have found a way to make your favourite treat healthier.
Researchers have created a new food product designed to taste like milk chocolate, but with all the goodness of dark chocolate - and then some.
The scientists, from North Carolina State University, noted that dark chocolate can be a useful source of antioxidants, but many consumers find it too bitter, opting for milk chocolate instead.
But they found a way to use peanut skin extracts to make milk chocolate that has even more nutritional benefits of dark chocolate, without affecting the taste.
Researchers from the department of food, bioprocessing, and nutrition sciences at the university extracted phenolic compounds from peanut skins, a waste product of peanut production.
They then combined them into maltodextrin powder, which is an edible carbohydrate with a slightly sweet flavour that comes from starchy foods such as potatoes, rice or wheat.
The maltodextrin powder was incorporated into the milk chocolate and voilà, the new chocolate was born.
Consumer testing of 80 participants who compared samples of both milk chocolates with peanut extracts and without showed that the fortified chocolates were liked as well as the untreated milk chocolate.
These tests also showed that the threshold for detecting the presence of the peanut skin extract was higher than that needed to fortify the milk chocolate to antioxidant levels comparable to dark chocolate.
Because peanut skins are a waste product of the blanching process of the peanut industry, the authors said that including these extracts would allow for a value-added use of the discarded skins.
“If applied to commercial products, peanut skin extracts would allow consumers to enjoy mild tasting products and have exposure to compounds that have proven health benefits,” lead author Lisa L Dean told explained.
The researchers noted that allergies caused by peanut extract were not investigated, but that work is now ongoing.