12 January - 20 June 2016

Hydrogel particles may reduce fat

11 Sept 13

Writing in Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, a team led by the Dept of Food Science at University of Massachusetts, reports the development of a new method for creating  oil-filled hydrogel particles that might be suitable as replacements for fat droplets or starch granules in reduced calorie products. Many emulsion-based food products such as sauces, dressings, desserts, and condiments have relatively high calorie content, but reducing their fat content usually diminishes desirable qualities like appearance, flavour, and texture. Hence, the interest in developing effective strategies to produce reduced fat emulsion-based products that possess sensory qualities similar to those of their full-fat counterparts. The authors note that filled hydrogel particles have already been shown to increase the overall flavour intensity of reduced fat emulsions, making them an attractive candidate for fat replacement. In this study, the researchers used biopolymer phase separation methods to produce filled hydrogel particles. Their systems consisted of fat droplets trapped within hydrogel particles, i.e. a type of oil-in-water-in-water (O/W2/W1) emulsion. Crucially, the researchers claim that their preparation method produces a more stable particle, and is more practical for use in food industry applications. The method is detailed and the particles are characterised, leading the authors to conclude that oil-filled hydrogel particles can be fabricated from mixtures of fat droplets, caseinate, and pectin using a relatively straightforward method. These hydrogel particles were shown to increase the lightness and viscosity of aqueous solutions, and may therefore be useful for replacing fat droplets or starch granules in reduced calorie products.

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