Fried foods for many are considered a key element of the obesity issue. They are a target for elimination by many health enthusiasts and food manufacturers. However, researchers at Brandeis University (Waltham, Mass.) are suggesting that a more useful approach would be to eliminate cholesterol instead of fried foods.
Source Food Technology Inc. (Research Triangle Park, Durham, N.C.) uses licensed proprietary technology from Brandeis University in its Nextra Gold[tm] cooking oils with phytosterols, a plant ingredient that has been heralded by the American Heart Association (Dallas) for its cholesterol-fighting abilities. Nextra Gold's patented, unique combination of palm, canola and plant sterols may help reduce or eliminate cholesterol absorption from fried foods and can function as a natural alternative to statin drugs.
“I believe it is difficult for people to change their eating and dietary behaviors,” says Hank Cardello, CEO of Source Food Technology Inc. “It is incumbent upon [food manufacturers] to make healthier versions of food that still taste good.” For example, Cardello explains that depending on the goals of his customer, Source Food can formulate a premium version where the right ratio of plant sterols could block dietary cholesterol absorbed by the body. In other words, with “cholesterol elimination oils,” a customer can eat a piece of fried chicken without absorbing any dietary cholesterol.
Phytosterols are specially heat-treated according to a patented process before they are blended into the product to make them bioavailable. “We create a molecular structure that behaves nicely and doesn't compromise on quality or stability,” says Cardello.
Other Source Food products include Nextra[tm], an extended-life frying oil which is made from a beef tallow-based oil with no trans-fat and no cholesterol, and Nextra Plus[tm], which removes cholesterol from lard. “Nextra Plus is appealing for the Hispanic community because it gives them an opportunity to cook their favorite 'lard-heavy' foods,” emphasizes Cardello. The product was launched in April 2005 at the Expo Comida Latino (San Antonio).
Source Food's cholesterol-reducing mandate even goes so far as to add specially processed phytosterols to OmegaSource[tm], an odorless and exceptionally stable omega-3 fish oil already on the market. Brandeis researchers believe that omega-3 oil combats triglycerides in the blood, while the phytosterols mitigate the absorption of cholesterol. This culminates in a synergistic effect that has a greater value than each does individually. Animal studies at Brandeis demonstrate that the OmegaSource oils, using a proprietary process, can reduce cholesterol levels up to 50%. OmegaSource with phytosterols is suitable for beverages, salad dressings, yogurts, nutritional snack bars, baked goods and other food items.
Nextra offers other benefits as well. Standard vegetable oil absorbs heavily into fried foods. Nextra oils have a high yield ratio (amounts of fried food/pound of oil), resulting in economic savings as well as extended fry life. Also, foods fried in Nextra are less greasy and Brandeis studies show that caloric counts are lower per serving.