April 12, 2024

New Study Finds Sugar-Reduced Chocolate with Oat Flour as Tasty as Original

In a recent blind taste test conducted by researchers at Penn State, it was found that chocolate made with oat flour is just as delicious as regular chocolate, even with 25% less added sugar. The study, which was published in the Journal of Food Science, provides a new option for reducing the sugar content in chocolate while maintaining its texture and flavor.

According to John Hayes, a professor of food science at Penn State and the corresponding author of the study, the team was able to show that a significant reduction in added sugar can be achieved without affecting consumer preference. He explained, “We’re never going to make chocolate healthy because it’s an indulgence, but we can successfully take out some of the sugar for consumers who are trying to reduce their intake of added sugars.”

The challenge in reducing the sugar content of chocolate lies in its role in both sweetness and bulking. To compensate for the reduction in sugar, the research team tested two different grains – rice and oats – which contain fine granular starches that could replace sugar in chocolate. While starch is still a carbohydrate and does not lower calorie content, using oat flour instead of sugar offers potential health benefits through an overall reduction in added sugar.

The study involved two blind taste tests using dark chocolate made with varying levels of sugars and grain flour. The results of the first test, which included 66 participants, showed that the 25% sugar-reduced chocolates and chocolates with reduced refining time were rated similarly to the control sample with normal sugar content. However, the chocolates with 50% sugar reduction were rated significantly different in terms of texture and flavor, mainly due to the rice flour chocolate having a chalkier texture. On the other hand, chocolates with oat flour were described as smoother, softer, and creamier.

The second taste test involved 90 participants and aimed to assess the acceptability of 25% sugar-reduced chocolates made with oat and rice flour compared to regular chocolate. The results showed that the oat flour sample did not differ significantly from the control chocolate and, in some cases, was even rated slightly better. The rice flour chocolates, however, were liked less than the normal chocolate control.

Kai Kai Ma, a doctoral candidate in food science at Penn State and co-author of the study, stated, “Our results suggest we can cut back 25% of added sugar to chocolate, effectively reducing the total sugar by 13.5%, if we substitute oat flour.” He further added that the addition of oat flour is unlikely to impact consumer acceptability.

The findings of this study have the potential to revolutionize the chocolate industry by providing a proof-of-concept that oat flour can effectively replace added sugars. As a result, new varieties of sugar-reduced chocolates may be developed in the future. Hayes plans to share the findings with individuals working in the chocolate industry and hopes to encourage innovations in sugar reduction while still preserving the pleasure derived from foods.

The study highlights the importance of meeting consumers’ desires while simultaneously addressing health concerns. Rather than making people feel guilty about their food choices, the focus should be on making food better and more enjoyable. The use of oat flour in chocolate production demonstrates a promising approach to reducing sugar content without compromising taste.

1.      Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2.      We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it