Increased Demand for Fats
Trans fats, hydrogenated oils and saturated fats, once major ingredients in all popular confectionery, are slowly falling out of favor worldwide. Various major studies have found them to be unhealthy, and with customers now more aware of their consumption choices, they are slowly being replaced with a new wave of healthier ‘alternative fats.’
This new shift is well represented by statistics, especially in the United States. A 2018 Food and Health survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation found that about more than half of American consumers found saturated fats to be unhealthy. An even larger section (70%) of the same population said they understood how beneficial omega-3 fatty acids were for health.
The growing dislike was echoed in another report, the 2017 ‘Food Formulation Trends: Oils and Fats’ report by Packaged Facts. Its findings show that more Americans (35%) avoided trans fats than any other form of processed fats.
In a close second was saturated fats, which only 29% of Americans admitted to avoiding. Partially hydrogenated oils followed with 24%, while margarine and vegetable oils proved to be the hardest to avoid, rounding up the survey with 21% and 18% each.
Naturally, the food and beverage industries are facing the biggest challenge with this shift in consumer demand. So far, it appears that most of the players in the industry are keeping in pace with the changes, mostly by searching for healthier alternative fats to use as ingredients instead. A few alternative fats have already become major considerations, especially these listed below.
Avocados have always been highlighted as potential alternative fats because of their healthy high fat nature. There’s approximately 15 grams of healthy fat in every avocado, which when broken down is an approximate combination of high monounsaturated fatty acids (71%), saturated fatty acids (16%) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (13%).
On its own, avocado fat has been found to support the creation of healthy blood lipid profiles and fat-soluble phytochemicals, which are in return known to help reduce the risk of chronic disease. The other advantages related to avocado fat also include lower weight and lower BMI levels among consumers.
One other alternative fat being considered as a replacement to trans fats and other unhealthy options is the fat from fatty fish, which is highly nutritious. Fatty fish types such as salmon, anchovies and herring are already popular food choices among many consumers, but not many people know how nutritionally beneficial they are.
In addition to other nutritious compounds, fatty fish also contain the N3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid, both of which are already marked by researchers as good for brain function and memory development. They’re also healthy fats, which means they’d be perfect alternatives.
Nuts, including increasingly popular types like walnuts, pistachios and almonds, are highly nutritious and good options for sources of alternative fats. In addition to unsaturated fatty acids, they’ve also been found to be good sources of dietary fiber, protein and numerous phytochemicals. Nuts have also been found to reduce the risk of a number of illnesses and conditions, including coronary heart disease and diabetes in women.
Extra virgin olive oil and olives
Olive oil has always been touted for its nutritional benefits and its wide range of uses, right from cooking to cleaning carpets. But not many people know the specifics of its nutritional abilities. Olives, olive oil and extra virgin olive oil all share a healthy fat known as triacylglycerol, known for its positive role in the treatment and prevention of the common illness, arterial hypertension.
Nutritionists have always recommended regular consumption of olives for their healthy fats, but the growing new demand for alternative fats may see them become regular ingredients for the food industry as unpopular forms of fat fade out.
The full breadth of the nutrition positives associated with chia seeds can be hard to cover. But they’re very good options for alternative fats, as research shows. The oil in chia seeds is made up of 65% omega-3 fatty acids, a factor credited to their high concentration of alpha-linolenic acid.
Omega-3 is already known for its highly positive effects on the physiologic functions of the body when added to a diet. Chia seeds are also known sources of antioxidants including quercetin, caffeic acid and myricetin, which are known to have properties ranging from anti-carcinogenic to anti-aging, and are also good for heart function.
While the specifics of how it could be used cannot be determined right now, full-fat yogurt is still a serious contender for alternative fat option to replace trans-fat and other unhealthy fat options. It’s already a popular consumption option among many households, where it is usually doubled with fruit as breakfast.
Dairy products, in general, are known for their protective powers against conditions like obesity and diabetes, and that includes full-fat yogurt. On its own, full-fat yogurt is comprised of many essential vitamins, including Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin D, all known for their healthy contributions to the body.
Dark chocolate is already known to be a favorite guilty pleasure for many, but there’s more to it than just sweetness. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 9 grams of fat, which means it contains a whole lot of it. Dark chocolate is made from cocoa, milk and other ingredients, all of which contribute to its vast nutritional abilities.
Cocoa for one is known for its vast phenolic antioxidants. Regular, measured consumption of dark chocolate is linked to increased stimulation of immune system pathways and better nerve development, including protection against inflammation and injury.
These are just some of the few alternative fats that have been considered to replace all unhealthy fat options as ingredients in confectionery and food. But as consumers grow more knowledgeable and demand for healthy fats increases, more alternative fats are bound to be discovered.