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Scientists make milk chocolate with same health benefits as dark chocolate

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milk chocolate... that's good for you (squeeeee)

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If you love chocolate, you may have danced with glee at news that dark chocolate is a source of antioxidants and, therefore, good for you. Even if you like dark chocolate, however, you can't deny its bitter taste. Milk chocolate certainly appeals to a greater number of people, but, alas, it doesn't have the same antioxidant properties as dark chocolate. What's a chocoholic to do? Science to the rescue!

Scientists have found a way to use peanut skin extracts to make milk chocolate that has even more nutritional benefits than dark chocolate — without affecting the taste.

The research team from the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences at North Carolina State University extracted phenolic compounds from peanut skins — a waste product of peanut production — and encapsulated them into maltodextrin powder, which is an edible carbohydrate with a slightly sweet flavor that comes from starchy foods such as potatoes, rice or wheat. The maltodextrin powder was incorporated into the milk chocolate.

Consumer testing of 80 subjects who compared samples of both milk chocolates with peanut extracts and without showed that the fortified chocolates were liked as well as the untreated milk chocolate. These tests also showed that the threshold for detecting the presence of the peanut skin extract was higher than that needed to fortify the milk chocolate to antioxidant levels comparable to dark chocolate.

Because peanut skins are a waste product of the blanching process of the peanut industry, the authors say that including these extracts would allow for a value-added use of the discarded skins.

"If applied to commercial products, peanut skin extracts would allow consumers to enjoy mild tasting products and have exposure to compounds that have proven health benefits," lead author Lisa L. Dean explained.

The researchers noted that peanut allergenicity was not investigated, but that work is now ongoing.

The study was recently published in the Journal of Food Science. Read the abstract here.

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