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Future Fats.

first_imgThe first fat substitutes were aimed mainly to helping peoplelose weight. But the fat substitutes of the future will offermore ways to good health.Casimir Akoh, a food science professor with the Universityof Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,is developing fat substitutes designed with added health benefits.Creating New Fat SubstitutesAkoh modifies the fat to enhance the way human bodies absorbit. He is also creating new low-calorie fat substitutes calledstructured lipids. He does so by exchanging properties of onefatty acid for those of another.He uses enzymes to blend long-chain fatty acids, like thosein vegetable and fish oils, with short- or medium-chain fattyacids. The former provide nutritional qualities, while the lattermetabolize faster and provide quick energy.”The combination of fatty acids is important,” Akohsaid, “because they each deliver benefits via two differentphysiological pathways: the long chains through the lymph system,and the short and medium chains through the circulatory system.”This could result in healthier fats in our diets.Fish Oil Without the FishOne of his fat substitutes was created from medium- and long-chainfatty acids from fish oil. In lab tests, this fat substitute hasbeen shown to reduce cholesterol by 49 percent.It also boosts the immune system by increasing thymus cells19 percent. The thymus is a ductless gland composed mainly oflymphoid cells. It plays a part in the body’s immune system.”This could be especially beneficial to AIDS patientswho have low T-cell counts,” he said. “We’re tryingto develop these oils for specific groups, like AIDS patientsor people with cystic fibrosis or fat absorption disorder. Andwe’re also working on an infant formula.”The new fish-oil fat would be helpful, too, to healthy peoplewho want to stay that way. Many people want the health benefitsof fish oil, but don’t like fish.”We’re creating various structured lipids and adding themto products like mayonnaise, salad dressing, beverages, confectionarycoatings and even dark chocolate,” Akoh said. “By addinghealthy oils like this one directly to foods that already callfor fat as an ingredient, we can get them into mainstream consumerproducts.”Akoh says taking a fish oil supplement wouldn’t be nearly aseffective, because the body absorbs structured oil much more quicklyand easily than a pill.What Will Consumers Say?Before these new oils can make it to the market shelves, however,they have to pass the consumer tests.”We recently introduced to a consumer panel a new canola-oil-basedstructured lipid used to create a chocolate-flavored nutritionalbeverage,” he said. “The oil was blended into a nutritionalsupplement drink. They tasted one with the new fat and one withthe traditional fat ingredient.”The results from this taste test aren’t yet available.”These new oils are a step in the right direction,”Akoh said. “Now people are eating fat just because it’s partof their food. We want people to eat a healthier kind of fat thatwill do some good for them and not clog their arteries. So whenyou make a batch of cookies, you can include a fat that wouldn’tincrease your cholesterol.”last_img read more