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Functional chocolate 2.0

Functional chocolate 2.0 .jpg
Chocolate may be an ideal functional food when fortified with omega-3 and probiotics.

Consumers often rely on functional foods as a preventive measure to keep good health, yet they do not want to compromise on the flavour. Fortunately, chocolate may be a great candidate to deliver indulgence bioactive ingredients.

Research supported by Tecnologico de Monterrey—Bioprocess and Synthetic Biology Research Group, NutriOmics Research Group, Translational Omics Research Group and VitaWard Research Foundation, and published in Foods (DOI:, says milk chocolate could be used as an indulgence vessel to deliver omega-3 (ω3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and probiotic strains—both crucial for children’s cognitive development. Researchers from Mexico developed functional chocolate to deliver fish oil and probiotic strains Lactobacillus plantarum and Lactobacillus rhamnosus. They added two concentrations (3.24%, 6.48% w/w) of fish oil in the chocolate formulation, with and without the probiotics. 

For the chocolate formulation, researchers used milk-chocolate pellets 33% cocoa (Vanleer, Barry Callebaut), Omega Pure® (America Alimentos S.A. de C.V.), Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (DSMZ 9843) (German Collection of Microorganisms and Cell Cultures, DSMZ) and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (ATCC 7469) (American Type Culture Collection, ATCC). Probiotics were applied via spray-drying microencapsulation to keep cell viability. Researchers added both probiotics and fish oil to the tempering process. Researchers noted, "The amount of powder containing microencapsulated probiotics added to milk chocolate formulation was calculated in order to obtain >1 × 106 CFU of probiotics per portion (12 g) of chocolate, whereas fish oil was added either at 3.24% w/w (FO1) or 6.48% w/w (FO2).”

The results showed that the probiotic count surpassed the 1 x 106 CFU per 12 g—the threshold count required for probiotic functions, therefore confirming the success of probiotic delivery. Further, researchers found 34,712.6 ± 57.3 mg of ω3 PUFAs per 100 g of chocolate formulation.  Further, researchers found that probiotics alone increased ω3 levels by 56.1% with the detection of EPA and DHA. They also noted, “The addition of fish oil at FO1 and FO2 concentrations to chocolate formulation resulted in a final product with 633.8 ± 43.4 and 1632.2 ± 54.6 mg of ω3 PUFAs per 100 g of sample, respectively, which correspond to 76.0 ± 5.2 mg (FO1) and 195.8 ± 6.5 mg (FO2) of ω3 PUFAs per chocolate portion (12 g).” When looking at chocolate formulations with both ω3 PUFAs and probiotic mixture, researchers found a significant decrease in the levels of ω3 PUFAs, but an increase in omega 6 (ω6) fatty acid.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 150 mg of ω3 PUFAs per day is recommended for optimal cognitive brain development. The results from the current research showed that one serving from both FO1 and FO1+probiotics met 47% of that, and a serving from FO2 and FO2+probiotics provided 106% of the daily ω3 PUFAs recommendation. After looking at the rheological analysis of the chocolate formulations, researchers concluded, “An adequate candidate for commercialization was the Prob + FO1 treatment considering rheological characteristics, colour, texture, and its potential benefits. It was possible to develop a bar of milk chocolate added with fish oil and probiotics, maintaining its stability,”

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