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Overview of Fat Replacement Strategies

For many of us, reducing the fat intake or the percentage fat intake in our foods without harming the quality or the taste of the food would be a burning question. Fat replacement strategies are the ones which will do just that, as it would try maintaining the foods consistency and taste as if it contains the usual amount of fat but with suitable alternative ingredients.

According to experts, there are three broad areas of fat replacement as mentioned below.

1. Adding water, starch and gums to the fat containing foods

2. Protein derived fat replacement

3. Use of engineered fat instead

In the first method, adding water to foods will make the proportion of fats in a serving to be lower than that of a normal non diluted serving. When the starch is added, the content will bind the water constituents and would make a thicker paste that would taste closer to fats in the food. Although these have shown beneficial effects as fat replacement supplements, they have a common problem as they cannot withstand frying of foods. Thus, starch derivatives such as cellulose, Z-trim and Oatrim can be used for this purpose except for the instances of fried foods.

The second option would be to introduce protein derived fat replacements and these replacements are mainly derived from milk and egg proteins. But, due to its instability during times of cooking and frying, they are hardly ever being used and the most common use of such protein derived fats is in producing certain brands of ice creams or frozen desserts.

In the third option, scientists have devised a method to produce engineered fat by adding certain food derivatives together. A common example given is the product olestra which is actually a combination of fatty acids added to regular table sugar. According to experts, the product would not be able to get absorbed nor would it be broken down during the digestive processes. Thus, the final outcome would be a fat replacement made out of fatty acids but would not get added on to the fatty acid load towards the liver after a digestive process. But, these substances will also carry its own risks as well. Among them, preventing the absorption of fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A,D,K…etc would be a major setback for its regular use.

These strategies can be used alone or in combination in preparing certain foods and although it seems to be a acceptable strategy for many people, the lack luster performance of these substances in extreme heats as well as nutritional deficiencies that it may cause are things that needs further modifications.