Milk chocolate gets the benefits of the dark side

Thanks to a new additive, milk chocolate and dark chocolate may soon be equally as good for you(Credit: belchonock/Depositphotos)

Most people prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, as it has a less-bitter flavor. The antioxidant properties of dark chocolate, however, make it the healthier choice. Well, soon you may no longer have to choose between better-tasting and better-for-you. Scientists have developed a method of boosting the antioxidant levels of milk chocolate up to those of its dark counterpart, while also putting a waste product to new use.

A research team at North Carolina State University started by extracting antioxidant-rich phenolic compounds from peanut skins, which are normally discarded during the blanching process in the peanut industry. Those compounds were then encapsulated within maltodextrin powder, which is a slightly sweet-tasting edible carbohydrate derived from starchy foods such as rice, corn or potatoes.

That powder was subsequently added to conventional milk chocolate, bringing its antioxidant levels up to those of dark chocolate.

In taste tests, 80 volunteers reported liking the treated milk chocolate just as much as milk chocolate with no added peanut skin extract. Although the extract could be tasted at higher concentrations, these were more than what would be needed to match the antioxidant levels of dark chocolate.

It should be noted that the scientists are still studying whether or not the treated chocolate could trigger reactions in people with peanut allergies.

A paper on the research was recently published in the Journal of Food Science.

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