Fitness is all about balance and that means some of the foods we love, like a dreamy chocolate bar for example, will often find a way into our mouths and hearts. But what if we could indulge in chocolate with a little less guilt? Science says that thanks to using more of the cocoa-fruit, we may soon be able to eat healthier while doing our bit for the planet. Here’s why.

A report submitted by the ETH Zurich research university in Switzerland and published in Nature Food has detailed how cocoa-fruit jelly has been successfully utilized to act as a sweet replacement to powdered sugar, providing a range of benefits as a result.

How have scientists developed a healthier chocolate?

ETH Zurich worked with figures in the chocolate industry, including a new startup called Koa — a company that is focussed on sustainable cultivation, and another organisation called Felchlin — a chocolate manufacturer, in order to develop a tantalizing and healthier recipe. Traditional chocolate makers only use the beans, but researchers were able to use the shell, which is crushed into a powder and then mixed with the pulp to make a kind of cocoa gel. It turns out that this resulting product is extremely sweet and can therefor replace the added sugar usually found in chocolate confectionary.

What are the benefits of cocoa-fruit chocolate?

Researchers say that cocoa fruit gel confectionary can be higher in fiber and lower in saturated fatty acid content even when compared to traditional dark chocolate recipes. Dark chocolate formulated with the gel offers 15 grams of fiber versus 12 grams of fiber per 100 grams. Saturated fat is down to 23 grams rather than 33 grams per 100 grams. Then, there’s sustainability to think of. Utilizing more of the coca-fruit, and making use of the shell as well as the bean is a great way to get more out each fruit, while reducing the fierce global demand on sugar that the chocolate industry relies on.

“Moreover, it uses more of the cocoa crop, avoiding food loss and waste, which is of increasing concern as environmental degradation worsens,” commented the report. “Overall, the development of whole-fruit chocolate formulations represent a promising example of how technology, nutrition, environmental impact and smallholder farmer income diversification can work together to improve the entire cocoa value chain.” Those who are chomping at the bit to chomp on some of this healthier chocolate will be pleased to know that ETH has already filed a patent.