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Researchers are developing a new generation of healthy light products


30 percent less fat - without chemicals and cheap tricks

Consumers who want to eat a low-calorie diet often go for light products in the supermarket. The calorie-reduced foods give the impression of a healthy diet. For many products, however, this is more appearance than existence. Because the reduction of fat is often achieved through the use of chemical additives and thickeners. A new generation of healthy low-calorie foods is now said to create a better alternative.

In two projects, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute are developing new production techniques to create a healthier generation of light products. The teams want to bring foods with 30 percent less saturated fatty acids to the market without resorting to the currently controversial methods. For example, palm fats are to be replaced by rapeseed oils and animal fats by vegetable proteins.

Great application possibilities

This nutritionally improved variant of light products can make a variety of foods healthier, such as cream fillings for baked goods, spreads and savory products such as sauces. Furthermore, tasty food is to be created in the course of the projects, which is produced with less sugar, salt and fat. Instead, the products should be enriched with fiber or vegetable proteins.

With vegetable proteins for improved light products

"When changing recipes or developing new products, we combine traditional manufacturing processes with innovative technologies and tailor-made functional food ingredients," explains project manager Christian Zacherl in a press release. The vegetable protein in particular plays a key role here. The vegetable proteins from lupine and other legumes have a fat-like structure and thus serve as fat substitutes. In addition, the protein content of the Light products can also be increased.

Avoid additives at high pressure

According to Zacherl, the disadvantage of current light products is a reduced shelf life. In industry, this is often offset by chemical additives that preserve the product. Such additives can be dispensed with in the new manufacturing process. The Fraunhofer Institute uses a high-pressure process that can produce foods with increased microbiological stability, which means that the use of preservatives can be completely or at least largely dispensed with.

Farewell to palm fat

Many foods, such as spreads, are made with palm fat. “From a nutritional point of view, these are unhealthy fats,” says the Fraunhofer researchers. They have a negative impact on blood lipid levels and LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease. The researchers want to replace these harmful palm fats with polyunsaturated oils. Rapeseed or sunflower oil can be used. In current tests, the texture, melting behavior and mouthfeel of the oils are adjusted so that there is no loss of taste. By not using palm oil, the food not only becomes healthier, but also more environmentally sustainable, the researchers emphasize. (vb)

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