Why we find chocolate addictive (spoiler: it's got nothing to do with taste)

  • Britons will consume an average of 7,560 chocolate bars in their lifetime, and 8,316 chocolate biscuits

  • Scientists have discovered that it’s not the taste of chocolate that people find addicting, but the way it melts in your mouth

  • Lower fat chocolate can still have the same texture effect as high fat chocolate

  • Read on to discover how the findings could lead to a production of healthier chocolate

Woman bites through a block of chocolate. (Getty Images)
Scientists have discovered that our affinity to chocolate has nothing to do with the taste. (Getty Images)

Chocolate is delicious, there is no doubt about it - and Britain is a nation of chocoholics.

According to recent research from the British Heart Foundation, the average Brit will eat 7,560 chocolate bars in their lifetime, 2,268 slices of chocolate cake, and 8,316 chocolate biscuits.

While the sugar found in chocolate, which gives the confection its sweet taste, has long been thought to be the reason chocolate is so addictive, new research has found that our fondness of chocolate is down to something else entirely.

Read more: 7 reasons why indulging in chocolate can be good for your health

Scientists at Leeds University have discovered that the way chocolate lubricates our tongues could be the reason why we’re so addicted to the sweet stuff.

“Lubrication science gives mechanistic insights into how food actually feels in the mouth,” co-author of the study, Professor Anwesha Sarkar, says.

“You can use that knowledge to design food with better taste, texture or health benefits.”

A wooden spoon mixes molten chocolate. (getty)
The melting texture of chocolate is what makes it addictive. (Getty Images)

Sarkar explains that the fat released from chocolate plays a key part in how the sweet melts in our mouth, but that this fat content could be reduced without having an impact on the texture of chocolate.

“If a chocolate has 5% fat or 50% fat it will still form droplets in the mouth and that gives you the chocolate sensation,” she explains.

“However, it is the location of the fat in the make-up of the chocolate which matters in each stage of lubrication, and that has been rarely researched.

Read more: Cadbury launches three new chocolate bars at 91 calories each

“We are showing the fat layer needs to be on the outer layer of the chocolate, this matters the most, followed by effective coating of the cocoa particles by fat, these help to make chocolate feel so good.”

The study, which was published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interface, concluded with scientists believing that they can create a healthier chocolate that still has that addictive texture.

Dark chocolate bar is cut into pieces. (Getty Images)
Scientists believe it is possible to create healthier chocolate. (Getty Images)

“With the understanding of the physical mechanisms that happen as people eat chocolate, we believe a next generation of chocolate can be developed that offers the feel and sensation of high-fat chocolate yet is a healthier choice,” Sarkar explains.

Read more: Quality Street swaps iconic plastic wrappers for eco-friendly option after 86 years

“Our research opens the possibility that manufacturers can intelligently design dark chocolate to reduce the overall fat content.

"We believe dark chocolate can be produced in a gradient-layered architecture with fat covering the surface of chocolates and particles to offer the sought after self-indulging experience without adding too much fat inside the body of the chocolate.”

Watch: How to make double chocolate focaccia