Obesity is a problem in developed nations the world over. People consume too much and exercise too little. In an effort for consumers to be able to “have their cake and eat it, too,” food ingredient suppliers have offered an array of products that assist in the development of low-fat or no-fat alternatives. The theory is that one can enjoy a traditional cake, pastry or snack while consuming fewer calories.

However, there has been a major problem with foods formulated with many of these ingredients…consumers simply do not prefer them. Perhaps the food or beverage does not taste good, lacks the mouthfeel or perception of products made with traditional ingredients, and simply does not satisfy that “inner person.”

Danisco's Benefat® is an ingredient that overcomes these problems. Why? It is a fat that does not act like a fat.

Benefat is fat in that it is a triglyceride; it has three fatty acids attached to glycerol backbone. Yet, unlike traditional triglycerides that have nine calories per gram, Benefat only has five. (See diagram.) This 45% reduction in calories is due to the uniqueness of the short- and long-chain fatty acids. In fact, the commercial name for Benefat is salatrim, an acronym for “short- and long-chain acid triglyceride molecules.” The combination of the short-chain fatty acids and the reduced availability of the long-chain make the overall caloric value closer to that of proteins or carbohydrates. For the short-chain fatty acids, the company uses acetic, propionic or butyric acid. Benefat may contain either one or two short-chain fatty acids on the glycerol backbone.

The presence of the shorter-chain acids results in a reduced-calorie food, but the real proof is in the finished products. Will consumers prefer such foods? The answer is yes. According to Terese O'Neill, Danisco's business director, Benefat, sales of the product have been successful. Benefat may be substituted in whole or in part for full-fat ingredients in baked goods and confectionery products without affecting that crucial element, consumer perception.

Products that have been formulated with Benefat retain the creamy texture, taste and mouthfeel of those made with full-fat ingredients. According to O'Neill, most of the current users are substituting Benefat for full-fat components at the one-for-one level. Additionally, the company is developing new culinary applications for products such as dips, sauces, frozen dairy desserts and processed cheese products.

The ingredient is not an exact duplicate of all traditional fats, however. It cannot be used in molded chocolate bars where the longer-chain fatty acids are necessary for setup. Due to its low smoke point, it cannot be used as a frying oil.

However, for many dairy-based foods, confectionery items and baked goods (including cake), consumers now can have one of their favorite desserts and eat it, too…with fewer calories and all the sensory qualities of a full-fat version.

For more information:

Danisco, Terese O'Neill
800-255-6837, ext. 1316, terese.o'neill@danisco.com