A NEW WAY OF STRUCTURING FATS COULD BE THE KEY
By Ryan F. Mandelbaum
Assistant Professor Farnaz Maleky’s research was recently featured in an article in Popular Science about making a healthier cream cheese.
You know the drill: you go to the supermarket and head to the cream cheese section for a container of breakfast's arguably most important spread. Which one do you pick? The saturated fat-packed original? The low-fat option? The all-natural-gluten-free-non-GMO-non-dairy-tofu spread? Scientists want to make something as good as the original without all of the saturated fat.
Many foods get their signature textures from fats that are solid at room temperature, including the best foods, like cream cheese, meat products, and baked goods. Unfortunately, the fats that are solid at room temperature are saturated and trans fats -- the fats people think are unhealthy. Replacing those with unsaturated fats, like olive oil, would give the foods an unfamiliar texture.
Now scientists at The Ohio State University are using a new method that replaces solid saturated milk fat in cream cheese with substances called oleogels, to produce a healthier and cheaper product. They've been able to make a cream cheese that looks and feels the same, although the flavor isn't all there yet.
"You can work on flavor at the end," principle investigator Farnaz Maleky told Popular Science. The main purpose of this study was instead to produce something with a familiar texture and behavior, by building up a solid network of microscopic fat molecules similar to that of full-fat cream cheese, but without saturated fats.