Published in Applied Research
Finding alternatives to saturated fats
A group of chemicals derived from sugar could represent a better alternative to saturated and trans-fatty acids for modifying the organoleptic and mechanical properties of oils.
A team of researchers from New York and New Jersey investigated the mechanical, thermal, and structural properties of medium-chain dialkanoates of low-calorie sugars (sugar alcohol dioctanoates). The study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that these compounds, specifically mannitol dioctanoate and sorbitol dioctanoate, readily form nanoscale multilayered structures in an oil matrix to form a coherent network at low concentrations (1−3 wt %/v), which immobilised a wide range of oils (canola, soybean, and grapeseed oils). The structuring efficiency of these so-called sugar amphiphiles was computed and found to be a function of its type and concentration.
There is clearly a push towards reducing the consumption of saturated fats and trans fatty acids. However, the addition of saturated fat to vegetable oil, (itself a major source of vital lipids) is commonly practised to 'structure' the vegetable oil, and this is an important process from a product formulation perspective. Structuring improves the mechanical and physical properties of an oil and enhances organoleptic properties (consistency, texture, flavour, and stability). Hence the desire to develop novel gelators that behave as an alternative to saturated fats, which have no adverse effects on human health. The sugar alcohol-based gelators, mannitol dioctanoate and sorbitol dioctanoate, used in this study appear to be excellent candidates for further investigation.

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