Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a replacement for those bad-boy trans fatty acids

Hydrogenated vegetable oil. Crisco. It was supposed to be so much better for you than lard, remember? Stable shelf life, takes a long time to turn rancid (oxidized), tasty in baked and fried foods. Then the cardiologists told us that trans fatty acids raise the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol, thus increasing risk for coronary heart disease. Four years ago the FDA mandated labeling trans fatty acid content on food packaging, and the Dietary Advisory recommendations are less than 1% of total fat intake. This caused a mad scramble in the food industry to reformulate recipes, and I am still carefully reading labels to avoid foods on the market that still contain trans fatty acids.

So, no more hydrogenation of corn oil. Leaving those double bonds in place on the oil gives a reactive bond to be attacked by oxygen, causing rancidity. How now to extend shelf life of foods that contain vegetable oils?

Turns out some bright assistant professor has found that a nanoparticle starchlike substance that comes from sweet corn can be used to emulsify oils and act as a barrier to oxidation. It's early research, but a nice natural product like sweet corn to extend shelf life will be a blockbuster patent. http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/News-nanoparticles-protects-food-oils-spoiling-120909.aspx for more chemistry speak.


leilani said...

I'm amazed to see cans of lard still in some grocery stores. WHO buys that stuff!

Interesting post. Thanks.

Wearinbeads said...

My guess is that the immigrant population buys lard to make refried beans. By the way, Safeway does lable locally grown produce, and the country of origin of fish (the latter I believe to be mandated).