Historically, ‘hardening’ of oils was used but the trans fats produced are now known to be even more detrimental to health, and have now largely been removed from the UK food supply as a result of adoption of other techniques.
The ‘interesterification’ of fats, which changes the order in which the three constituent fatty acids are attached to each glycerol backbone within the fat, is one such approach.
More like a ‘solid fat’
This is a way of modifying the functional properties of oils to make them behave more like a ‘solid fat’ in terms of melting point, texture and the shelf stability of foods that contain them.
A new project underway at King’s College London is looking at the digestion, metabolism and possible health effects of these fats. Unlike much of the previous work, the project is focusing on commercially relevant palmitic acid-rich interesterified fats.
A paper describing the project and the important questions it is addressing can be found in the June edition of Nutrition Bulletin.
- Professor Judy Buttriss is director general of the British Nutrition Foundation
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