Nestlé Found a Way to Cut the Sugar in Chocolate by 40 Percent

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Photo: Canan Czemmel/Getty Images/Westend61

Food giant Nestlé says it has figured out a way to make sugar taste just as sweet but be lower in calories, helping reduce the amount of sugar in its candy by up to 40 percent.

How did they do it? Scientists at the company altered the chemical structure of sugar so that its crystals are basically hollowed out but taste just as sweet. “It is sugar, but it is assembled differently so it can disassemble easily in your mouth with less going into your gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Stefan Catsicas, the company’s chief technology officer, told the New York Times.

The result is reduced-calorie chocolate, but exactly how many fewer calories is unclear. The company didn’t go into additional detail as they’re going to patent the process but it will start using the new sugar in its Crunch, Butterfinger, and BabyRuth bars starting in 2018.

This all sounds amazing until you remember that reduced-calorie foods with artificial sweeteners — looking at you, diet soda — can make you eat more by messing with your brain’s expectations of how much sustenance it’s about to get. Diet soda is particularly bad because it contains zero calories but is still very sweet, though studies in mice suggest that reduced-calorie foods can also increase hunger.

Even if you don’t feel hungrier after eating diet chocolate, you might think about the calories you saved and then eat them somewhere else. In playing mad scientist with sugar, snack companies are doing what they think they need to do as customers are trying to eat healthier, but just know that it might not save you any calories in the long run.