Are the newly developed fat replacers, or “fake fats,” a dieter’s dream come true, or are they just another nutrition fad food?
How Fats Fit into your Eating Habits
Nutritionists have long held that the single most important change most people can make in their eating habits is to cut back on fat. Researchers have worked hard to provide the public with substances that give food the rich creamy flavor and texture of high-fat foods without the added calories.
Types of Fake Fats
There are three kinds of fake fats: carbohydrate based, protein-based and chemical-based.
Carbohydrate-based fat replacers such as cellulose, dextrings and modified food starch have long been used as thickeners and stabilizers for sauces, salad dressings, frozen desserts and baked goods. Like other carbohydrates, they provide four calories per gram as compared to the nine calories per gram of fat.
Protein-based fat replacers have recently come on the market under such brand names as Simplesse. They are specially processed egg and milk proteins and have the same calorie content — four per gram — as other protein foods. They may also cause allergic reactions in those who are sensitive to milk or egg products.
Both of these fat replacers are destroyed by heat, but a third fat replacer, is made from fats that have been chemically changed so the body does not absorb them. It contains no calories and can be heated. Once approved by the FDA, it was marketed under the name Olestra.
Satisfy the Craving
Can fake fats help satisfy our craving for rich foods without the extra calories? Probably, but the fake fats have no nutritional value. It is still important that you eat a variety of foods to get essential nutrients.