There is a time and place for all things. This includes the enigmatic use of fat replacers. With a society highly focused weight loss and management. Calorically, fats provide 9 calories per gram, while carbohydrates and proteins each provide 4 calories per gram. As you can see, fats are more calorically dense than carbohydrates and protein. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine recommends limiting fat intake to 10-35% of daily intake as excessive intake of high fat foods can lead to greater risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
Now you’re wondering how to cut down on your beloved fatty foods? With the help of fat replacers you have some help! Fat replacers are nonfat substances that are not the same in chemical properties as fat, but will provide many of the same characteristics, such flavor, texture, mouth feel and volume at a lower caloric amount.
Use of fat replacers help decrease fat intake by 1/3 and more easily comply with fat intake recommendations of lower saturated and trans fat intake.ed. Fat based replacers use vegetable oil instead of triglycerides, including caprenin, salatrim and olestro*. Carbohydrate based fat replacers include modified starch, dextrins, oat fiber, dried plum paste and gums can be used as thickeners for dairy type products, frozen desserts, spreads, salad dressings or sauces. Milk protein or egg are used as protein based fat replacers are used in low fat dairy products, such as margarine, mayonnaise, soups and salad dressings.
Short term studies on fat replacers have shown potential health benefits, including lower blood lipid levels, weight loss and blood clotting factors. Powdered soluable oat fiber has also indicated lower body weight, lower systolic blood pressure, better glucose tolerance and lipid levels. While these short term studies are positive news, long term studies need to be conducted to confirm and validate these initial findings.
The point of fat replacers is not to downplay fat’s role in foods, as we need fat in cheese to maintain silky texture, provide tenderness and softening the crumb in baking, but to make you more aware of alternative solutions to limit fat intake. Remember, fat replacers is not a end all solution, but moderation is key. One can still overeat on foods that are listed as “fat free” or “low fat” as it is not a guarantee of lower caloric intake.
*Olestro/olestra has been found to interfere with absorption of fat soluable vitamins and carotenoids and may cause cramping, loose stools and/or bloating.