Thursday, February 19, 2009

Can you be fooled by fake fats?

In order to please consumer’s taste (while keeping their health in mind), the food industry has developed “fake fats.” These “fake fats” possess the same taste and qualities of fat, just without the health hazards attached. There are two categories of “fake fats.” The first involves the same fatty acid chains found in real triglycerides, they’re attached to a substance other then glycerol. This produces a substance that looks and feels like fat, but is not digested by the body. They use sugars other than sucrose to attach fatty acid chains, use short fatty acid chains, or replace fatty acids entirely by long-chain alcohols. The second category of fake fats uses substances that don’t contain long-chain hydrocarbon components. They give humans the impression that they’re consuming fat. They have a creamy feel in the mouth but they consist of protein instead of fat. They are especially used in “light” foods, such as margarine.

Unfamiliar terms: triglyceride is glyceride in which the glycerol is esterfied with three fatty acids. Triglycerides are formed from a single molecule of glycerol, combined with three fatty acids on each of the OH groups, and make up most of fats digested by humans. It is the main constituent of vegetable oil and animal fats.

The innovation behind this idea is genius. It is a much healthier alternative then actual fat, and can ultimately end up saving people’s lives. People are always complaining that they need to lose weight, and this is an excellent way for people to start. The only downfall is that the “fake fats” may have a different taste and may not be as easily disguised in flavor as the author of this article makes it out to be. However, personally, I cannot tell much of a difference between butter and margarine. More people would probably be more in tune to “fake fats” if they knew how detrimental real fats really were for them. Therefore I feel that more awareness should be made to advocate ingesting “fake fats.”

Baird, Colin. “Fake Fats have the mouth-feel of real fat.” Chemistry In Your Life: Second Edition. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York. 2006. P. 284-5

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