Using the Functional Properties of Starch in Fat Replacement, Substitution, or Mimetics

In the 1980s, the inclusion of “bran” or “fiber” in foods was a key topic. In the 1990s, the reformulation of foods to reduce the content of fat became a strong market driver. Along with that came the need for specific ingredients to replace the fat (lipid) in several food systems.

Substitution or the mimicking of the properties, either in part or all of the lipid system was desired. Starch and protein industries responded with an abundance of so-called fat replacements. Unfortunately, only one industry was lucky enough to quickly and successfully institute a complete line of fat-free products (pourable salad dressings). The rest of the food products being researched to replace the lipids fell well short of success.

Today the bakery industry has very acceptable and highly recognized fat-free products in the marketplace. Attempts at present to achieve a single ingredient for fat replacement have been unsuccessful. The industry has realized that complex formulations are required and likely a formulation containing two or three ingredients has been required to simulate the removed lipid(s).

The above holds true for fat-free foods; however, as we move to new definitions for low- and reduced-fat food categories, the research community has been very successful with formulating foods containing some true lipids. Suggested levels for usage are very difficult because the food system being reformulated will usually drive the type and amount of ingredients suggested. Texture, flavor, viscosity, and eating quality will also be the key drivers for what is used and how much of the lipid can be removed.

The technology for many of the starch products utilized as fat substitutes or a mimetic was developed from that used for production of starches used for emulsification and encapsulation.

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