São Paolo — The addition of plant sterol esters (phytosterols; PS) to dark chocolate inhibits cholesterol absorption in the intestine and could meet FDA standards for functional food, according to a study published in LWT - Food Science and Technology.
Equally important, the candy’s functionality was undiminished after five months of stage at room temperature, the authors note.
PS occurs naturally in seeds, vegetable oils and cereals. For products to claim cholesterol-reducing capability, FDA requires that when consumed, they deliver at least 1.3g of phytosterols daily.
Researchers at the University of São Paulo, Alma Mater Studorium-Universita di Bologa and Brazilian functional food supplier Chocolife Indústria e Comercio de Alimentos Funcionais, Ltda. developed sugarfree dark chocolate bars enriched with either 2.2g of PS esters or palm oil. The wrapped bars were stored at 20 and 30 degrees Centigrade for five months.
Oxidation peaked at 60 days at 20 degrees and 30 days at 30 degrees, then declined rapidly. Bloom appeared at 90 days but did not affect flavor or texture of the samples.
Although the study team expected PS ester concentration to deteriorate, reducing functionality, values in the PS-enriched bars were six percent higher after 150 days than at the beginning and there were no significant modifications in the bars’ nutritional and sensory profile.
“The daily intake of one bar (30g) provided about 2.2g of PS esters, which is higher than the amount required by the FDA. In addition, the chocolate bar developed in this study did not contain sugar and was formulated with 50g/100g of cocoa, becoming an interesting option for individuals with dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome,” the authors write.