Substitutes, or fat replacers, provide the sensory and functional qualities normally provided by fat. For example, fat provides moistness in baked goods, texture in ice cream, and crispiness in potato chips. Because fat has so many diverse functions in foods, it is virtually impossible to replace it with a single compound or process. The ingredients used in place of fat depend on how a food product will be eaten or prepared. For instance, not all fat-substitute ingredients are stable when heated, so the type of fat substitute used in a fat-free salad dressing may not work well in a muffin mix.
Many fat substitutes are simply old ingredients used in new ways. For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved polydextrose for use as a moisture-binding agent in the early 1980s, but more recently it nutrition: the maintenance of health through proper eating, or the study of same diet: the total daily food intake, or the types of foods eaten chronic: over a long period saturated fat: a fat with the maximum possible number of hydrogens; more difficult to break down that unsaturated fats cholesterol: multi-ringed molecule found in animal cell membranes; a type of lipid heart disease: any disorder of the heart or its blood supply, including heart attack, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease calorie: unit of food energy
COMMON FAT SUBSTITUTES
Microparticulated protein Modified whey protein concentrate
Emulsifiers (mono- and diglycerides) Sucrose polyester (olestra)
carrageenan: a thickener derived from red seaweed guar gum: a thickener made from a tropical bean protein: complex molecule composed of amino acids that performs vital functions in the cell; necessary part of the diet molecule: combination of atoms that form stable particles food additive: substance added to foods to improve nutrition, taste, appearance or shelf-life
Starch/modified food starch Z-Trim has been used as a fat substitute. Carrageenan has been used since the early 1960s as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener, but is now commonly used to replace fat in foods, as is guar gum, which has been used as a thickener for nearly a hundred years.
Some fat substitutes are newer to the food supply, though they are made from familiar ingredients. For example, microparticulated protein is made from milk, egg, or whey protein. Other fat substitutes are new ingredients made from combinations of basic molecules.
In some cases, the FDA has approved fat-reduction ingredients as food additives. To be approved, food additives are tested extensively to assess their safety and level of use among different population groups. Examples of fat substitutes approved as food additives include carrageenan, olestra, and polydextrose.
In other instances, fat-reduction ingredients are "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS). GRAS ingredients are made from common food components and are considered by experts to be safe. For example, many spices and flavoring agents, such as sugar and salt, are GRAS ingredients. Examples of GRAS fat substitutes include guar gum and maltodextrin.
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