February 4, 2023

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This is why chocolate is irresistible beyond taste

Research conducted by researchers Leeds School of Food Science and Nutrition, UK, investigated the physical process that occurs in the mouth when eating a piece of chocolate and the pleasure that results from its touch and texture. The study, the conclusions of which have been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interface, could contribute, according to the scientists, to the development of a new generation of chocolate with the same sensation and texture but healthier.

The tests were carried out using a brand of fine dark chocolate on an artificial tongue-like surface designed at the University of Leeds. The study found that in addition to taste, Chocolate is also irresistible because of the process that takes place in the oral cavity, where it goes from a solid emulsion to a soft emulsion, due to the ingredients themselves and the combination with saliva.

Fat plays a major role when a piece of chocolate comes into contact with the tongue. After that moment, the cocoa solids are released and become important in terms of sense of touch.

Therefore, the deeper fats within chocolate play a very limited role and can be reduced without affecting the sense of pleasure in consumption, according to the work’s authors.

The researchers used analytical techniques from an engineering field called tribology, which studies the friction, wear and lubrication that occur during contact between solid moving surfaces. In this case, scientists investigated the interaction between the ingredients of the chocolate itself and saliva, and how, when in contact with the tongue, it releases a fatty membrane that covers the tongue and other surfaces of the mouth, and this is a film that makes this product soft as long as it remains in the mouth.

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For the team of researchers, the physical techniques used in the study can be applied to the study of other foods, in which matter changes from a solid state to a liquid state, such as ice cream, butter, or cheese. The project of which this study is a part has received funding from the European Research Council under the Research and Innovation Programme Horizon 2020 from the European Union.