A study looking at the oil droplet size within an oil-in-water emulsion has found it can have a significant impact on the emulsions sensory properties. Emulsions are fat based liquid food structures formed by mixing two immiscible liquids, used commonly in the food industry for products such as sauces and spreads. Smaller oil droplets enhanced perceived creaminess, and were preferred to larger oil droplet emulsions, but more interestingly they gave an increased sensation of satiety.
Scientists from the School of Chemical Engineering, Birmingham and the School of Psychology, Sussex, designed a study where participants would consume a calorie controlled breakfast, and return 3 hours later for a 200mL drink of an oil emulsion containing either 2 or 50µl droplets of oil. 20 minutes later, they were given a pasta lunch. Interestingly, within the group that had consumed the smaller droplet oil emulsion, there was an average of 12% less calories worth of pasta consumed compared to those that consumed the larger droplet oil emulsion. These statistics correspond to an average of 62kcal less being eaten at lunch between the groups, which is an important finding in light of the obesity epidemic and the highlights falling on ‘obesogenic’ fat dense foods.
These findings could encourage food manufacturers to change the functionality of fat, rather than its overall reduction, if by doing so it would increase satiety for consumers. This could mean that appetite would decrease following consumption and hence would decrease overall energy intake.