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abr 20, 2018
Food and Beverages

São Paulo researchers create chocolate which may reduce risk of cancer

Researchers at a University of São Paulo laboratory in Pirassununga have successfully developed a new form of chocolate which boosts the human immune system and may even reduce the incidence of intestinal cancer. The groundbreaking creation involves introducing probiotics into the chocolate, bacteria which are found in fermented dairy products and help protect humans from pathogens in the gut.
 
Foods with probiotics have been shown to be beneficial to human health by balancing gut bacteria and strengthening the immune system. According to one of the researchers involved in the study, Marluci Palazzolli da Silva, this probiotic chocolate may even help guard against intestinal cancer. “The recommended daily dose is around 30 grams, which equates to a square of chocolate,” Da Silva explained.
 
Probiotic foods are becoming more and more widespread in Brazil, with a much higher awareness on behalf of the population in regard to their health benefits. Brazil, along with the United States, currently dominates over three-quarters of the probiotics market in the Americas. Until now, the most commonly found probiotic products on the shelves of Brazilian supermarkets are mainly dairy products, especially yoghurt, while baby foods and snack bars are also popular.
 
This narrow variety of probiotic products creates a problem for those who are intolerant to lactose, however, which is why this new chocolate is made without milk.
For the first time in Brazil, a product which does not require refrigeration has been successfully introduced with probiotic microorganisms. During the study, the samples were stored at 25 degrees Celsius for 120 days, not losing any of their probiotic properties over this time.
 
The study, which was published in an international science journal, ended with a sensory evaluation, in which volunteers were asked to taste the chocolate before being asked a series of questions. The samples achieved high scores on a hedonic scale used to measure food acceptability and 75% of the participants said they would purchase the product at the supermarket.
 
"It's really good!” remarked Carla Lourenço, one of the volunteers. “We thought it would be different, but the taste is very good and its really healthy."
The researchers concluded that semisweet chocolate is an ideal vehicle for probiotics, as the introduction of the microorganisms does not affect the chocolate’s physical or chemical characteristics, and the rate of survival of the probiotics incorporated into the chocolate was much higher than that of regular probiotics.
 
The research team are now awaiting funding in order to conduct clinical tests, with a view to introducing probiotic chocolate into the Brazilian market.