Nikita Richardson
May 01, 2016 8:32 am

Some things are just not meant to be low-fat. Think ice cream or your favorite Oreos. They just don’t taste as good, right? But that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t trying to make our favorite foods healthier. Or, if not healthier, at least not quite as bad for us.

This week, it was announced that researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium have discovered a new way to make low-fat chocolate while maintaining its structure, taste, and viscosity, or the thickness of the chocolate. This has always been the key to cracking the low-fat chocolate code; the fat in cocoa butter is what gives chocolate its smooth taste, melting capabilities, and butter texture. So how do you replicate cocoa butter’s qualities without the fat? 

Believe it or not, science turned to citrus for the answer to this tricky, chocolatey conundrum. The answer lay in a substance called limonene, which is a colorless liquid hydrocarbon found in oranges and lemons. According to Science Daily  adding limonene to low-fat chocolate “results in a smoother, softer chocolate that melts more easily than typical reduced-fat chocolates.”

Here’s how it works: At certain temperatures, limonene affects the crystallization of cocoa butter, one of the most important ingredients in the making of chocolate. Scientists got out the hand chocolate X-ray machine and were able to determine exactly how limonene affects the development of chocolate crystals, and voila! Delicious chocolate was made! Ultimately, choosing the right combination of limonene and temperature could make for a smoother and richer low-fat chocolate that even the most dedicated chocoholic will enjoy.

Think of the implications to this discovery. No more moping after you’ve eaten that fifth fun-size Halloween candy bar. Ben & Jerry’s binges are no longer reserved for breakups. That occasional chocolate-on-chocolate dinner is no longer harmful to your arteries.

What would we do without you, science?