New fake fat: tastes good, less filling
August 25, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen
ATLANTA (CNN) -- How many times have you lamented that
"everything that tastes good is bad for you?"
Fat, the part of food that helps make it palatable, is a
major no-no in the battle of the bulge, and to date fat
substitutes haven't quite managed to replace the real thing.
Now, however, there's new hope for the health-conscious: a
fake fat that has no calories at all and is completely
Z-Trim, made from oat fiber, is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) new fake fat. Its inventors claim the
product can make a nice juicy burger taste just as good with
14 percent less fat, and cut 25 percent of the fat and
calories out of cheese spreads without changing the taste or
Even the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which
attacked the fake fat Olestra, says Z-Trim appears to be safe
and a useful tool for losing weight.
Although you can't deep fry foods in Z-Trim the way you can
in Olestra, for everything else, the theory is simple. Fat
has nine calories in every gram. Z-Trim has zero calories
Thus, if you take some of the fat out of a burger or cheese
and replace it with the oat fiber gel, the food loses none of
its consistency, but drops calories.
"It's a new generation in fighting fat and it can provide
another instrument for the food industry," said George
Inglett, a biochemist with the USDA in Peoria, Illinois. It
took him three years of research to come up with Z-Trim.
He baked a batch of brownies up in his lab to conduct taste
tests of the product. According to Inglett, his brownies,
made with a 50 percent mixture of fat and Z-Trim got a
unanimous thumbs up by a panel of 25 people in his
laboratory, who all said they were just as good as the full-
Fat replacers are nothing new. They've been used for years
in everything from baked goods to processed meats to cheeses.
But the inventor of Z-Trim says this product is better from
both a nutrition and a taste point of view.
For example, a fat-free hot dog already on the market uses
potato starch as a fat replacer -- but potato starch still
has calories. Z-Trim has none, and Inglett says it tastes
Olestra, another fat replacer, has been blamed for causing
cases of intestinal cramping and diarrhea. Z-Trim doesn't do
that, according to USDA.
Inglett says adding a small amount of Z-Trim to foods even
seems to have a health benefit, because it adds a small
amount of fiber to the diet.
"Grandma called it roughage, and fiber is a wonderful bulking
agent that helps food move through the gastrointestinal
tract. We all need it, we don't get enough of it and here's
a great opportunity to add a few more grams of it to your
diet," said registered dietitian Kathleen Zelman.
However, Zelman warns, just because a food is lower in fat,
that doesn't mean you can eat it with reckless abandon. A
burger with 14 percent less fat still has plenty of fat and
Because Z-Trim is made from ingredients that are generally regarded as safe, Inglett said it will not require exhaustive
testing for Food and Drug Administration approval.
The FDA so far tends to agree although it has not seen the
product, said Judith Foulke, a department spokeswoman.
Inglett expects that Z-Trim will be in products in the
grocery store next year. Then, consumers can decide for
themselves if products with Z-Trim really do taste like their
Reuters contributed to this report.
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