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Highlights in Chemical Science

News from across RSC Publishing.

A trans-fat-free future

09 January 2007

A healthier alternative to artery-clogging trans fats has been developed by food scientists.

In December 2006, New York City health officials voted to ban the artificial trans fatty acids which are found in many fried foods. Trans fats are partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that are used to structure liquid oils, making them solid and fat-like. The fats extend the shelf-life of foods, but have no nutritional value, and cutting them out of the diet can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Spreading margarine on toast
Alejandro Marangoni at the University of Guelph, Canada, and colleagues have now come up with a healthier, trans-fat-free method for converting oils to solid fat-like materials. The researchers turned the oil into a gel with the properties of a fat by encapsulating it within the multi-layered structure of monoglyceride in water. 

'Moreover,' said Marangoni, 'human trials have shown that this oil-structuring results in a controlled release of the lipids into the blood.' This lowers the levels of free fatty acids and insulin following a meal.

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions throughout the world, and limiting energy intake from fats can decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, he said. 'Our oil-gel could be a viable alternative to traditional fats used in food manufacturing.'

Michael Spencelayh


Oil Microencapsulation Attenuates Acute Elevation of Blood Lipids and Insulin in Humans

A G Marangoni, S H J Idziak, C Vega, H Batte, M Ollivon, P S Jantzi and J W E Rush, Soft Matter, 2007

DOI: 10.1039/b611985a