Scientists have discovered why chocolate is so irresistible beyond its taste.
The work was carried out by researchers from the School of Food Science and Nutrition in Leeds, England, who studied in depth the physical process that occurs in the mouth when eating a piece of chocolate and the pleasure caused by its touch and texture.
The results of the study, published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, could contribute to the development of a new generation of chocolates with the same feel and texture, but healthier for consumption, according to those responsible.
The tests were carried out using a brand of luxury dark chocolate on an artificial tongue-like surface designed at the University of Leeds. In addition to taste, the study concluded that chocolate is inescapable due to the process of turning it from a solid to a smooth liquid in the mouth and mixing with ingredients and saliva.
Fat plays an important role in the moment a piece of chocolate comes into contact with the tongue. After that moment, solid cocoa particles are released and become prominent in terms of tactile sensation.
Therefore, the authors of the work argue that the deep fat in chocolate plays a very limited role and can be reduced without affecting the pleasure of consumption.
The researchers used analytical techniques from the field of engineering called “tribology,” which studies the friction, wear, and lubrication that occur during contact between solid surfaces.
In this case, the scientists examined the interaction between the ingredients of chocolate and saliva, and how when it comes into contact with the tongue, it releases the fatty film that covers the tongue and other surfaces of the mouth. It is this film that softens the material throughout its time in the mouth.
For the team of researchers, the physical techniques used in the study can be applied to the investigation of other foods that undergo a phase change, where a substance changes from a solid to a liquid state, such as ice cream, butter or cheese.
The project that this study is part of received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.