Health vs Weight Essay
Low carbohydrate diets and low fat diets alike use ‘replacements’ to avoid consuming fat or carbohydrates. Most consumers love to eat fatty foods. Not only do such foods taste good, but they offer reminders of childhood “comfort foods,” respites from the hurried, bustling lives most of us live. (Mills, 1992) We want these foods but are admonished about the deleterious effects that come with their consumption. We are repeatedly reminded that second only to smoking, overeating (and the overeating mainly of these fatty delights) is the nation’s leading cause of death.
We want to change our diets, but not too much. Consumers want to “change without changing.” (Woteki et al, 1992) According to the NPD Group, which has been conducting surveys on eating trends in America since 1980, “Better for you” foods (e.g., lower-fat versions of products) now account for nearly one-third of all grocery purchases. (Woteki et al, 1992) The public clearly wants (and will pay for) foods that “taste good” and also carry less fat. So, the demand has been created for products that are lower-fat versions of the ones with which one is familiar. Food processors are responding to that demand by creating low-fat versions of long-time favorites. On average, more than 1,000 new low-fat and fat-free products have been introduced annually since 1990, according to the International Food Information Council. And most of these are designed to be identical to a full-fat counterpart. (Davis et al, 1996)
Clearly, advances in technology and new ingredients are a driving force behind the development of high-quality fat- and cholesterol-reduced foods. As the demand increases, food processors have a challenge to deliver well‐ rounded flavor and mouthfeel as well as reduced fat and calories in new products. This trend of “getting the fat out” has become a multibillion dollar phenomenon, and “fat replacers” have become the food industry’s favorite means for delivering the taste, but not the calories of fat. (Mills, 1992)
Although a number of terms have been coined to describe this diverse group of food ingredients, perhaps the most appropriate is “fat replacer,” an ingredient that replaces some or all of the functions of fat and may or may not provide nutritional value. 6 Other commonly used synonyms include fat analogs, fat mimics (also called mimetics), and fat extenders or sparers. Fat replacement occurs by any one of several technologies or combinations of ingredients, or both. The simplest technique for replacing fat is to add air or water to the product.
To meet the challenge of stabilizing the air or binding the water, other ingredients are frequently added. The food industry’s search for fat replacements has required a careful balance of ingredients and advanced processing technology to produce a reduced-fat product that replicates all the texture, mouthfeel, and flavor of the traditional product. In fact, achieving fat reduction is often the result of several ingredients and processing techniques used in combination, rather than a single ingredient used as a one-for-one substitution for fat.
Three basic techniques have been developed to produce ingredients that reduce the fat level of foods. The first two develop fat replacers using two other macronutrients, carbohydrates and proteins, that have fewer calories than fat. The earliest development and the most common approach has been to replace a portion of the fat in the product with carbohydrate-based substances, such as starches, dextrins, or gums. These plant substances soak up water and “plump up,” creating tiny balls that simulate the slippery or slimy sensation in the mouth, which food technologists call “mouthfeel.” (Woteki et al, 1992) The objective is to take water and “structure” it so that it produces a feeling in the mouth that mimics that of the high-fat food.
Simulating the slippery “mouthfeel” of fat is also the general principle behind the type of fat replacers based on “micro-particulated proteins.” (Mills, 1992) When heated at high temperatures, proteins from milk or whey (the watery portion of milk) or egg white coagulate into particles so small that the tongue perceives them as a fatlike smooth and creamy liquid. The practical food applications for these protein-based products are almost exclusively in nonheated foods, such as frozen desserts, yogurt, margarine, and the like, since the proteins are dispersed and denatured upon heating and lose their fatlike taste.
Some researchers believe that metabolic factors may play a role in dietary fat consumption. Eating fat may be an addictive behavior with a pleasure response modified by what scientists call “the endogenous opiod peptide system.” (Davis et al, 1996) Thus, preferences for fat are not merely psychological; a physiological or metabolic component may be involved. Reducing dietary fat intake does not result simply from modifying behavior patterns. Interventions to educate people to consume less fat must also recognize and deal with what may be a powerful physiological component. When products that alter lipids are used as fat replacers, they taste like fat because they still are. These compounds have actually had their molecular structure as a fat modified so that they can’t be digested by the body, and therefore no calories are available to wreck havoc in the body. This is the principle on which olestra was developed by Procter & Gamble nearly three decades ago.