No-Calorie Powder May Substitute for Food’s Fat
George E. Inglett of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Biopolymer
Research Unit in Peoria III invented a no-calorie fat substitute called Z-Trim.
It is a mix of crushed fibers made from the hulls of grains. It can replace the
fat and some of the carbohydrates in foods such as chocolates, brownies, cheese,
and ground beef. He spent three years trying to perfect Z-Trim to be smooth
because he made it out of tough hulls of corn, oats, and rice. He first crushed
the hulls with a solution of hydrogen peroxide. He washed the peroxide off in
centrifuge. After this step it was still too large, so he put the pieces back
through the first step of the hydrogen peroxide and the centrifuge. That made
it smooth. Now, it is a fine, white cellulose powder that can be made into a
gel by adding water.
Inglett also developed Oatrim. This is made up of a digestible fiber
from oat flour that provides four calories per gram.
Z-Trim compared to another fat substitute, olestra, is different.
Olestra can cause gastrointestinal distress and take vitamins and carotenoids
out of the body. The new substitute does not have those affects. Inglett says
that you should eat more of the kind of fibers that make up Z-Trim to reduce
the chances of getting intestinal disorders.
But there are some people who argue with Inglett’s theory on his new
substitute. “I wouldn’t expect Z-Trim to have the same kinds of problems as
olestra,” says Margo Wootan, a senior scientist at the Center for Science in the
Public Interest in Washington, D.C. “Fiber is already found in our diet, while
olestra is a synthetic chemical. There is also concern for the “microbial
stability” of foods containing Z-Trim. “Whenever you remove the lipid material
and replace it with water,” says Thomas H. Parliment, a flavor chemist for Kraft
Foods in White Plains, New York, “microbes are to grow, and you can get mold.”
That would have to be worked out before Z-Trim could go on the market, Parliment
If you want to replace fat in food, Inglett says, only 3 safe no-calorie
possibilities exist: water, air, and fiber. “You don’t sell anybody air, you
don’t sell anybody water, but you can sell people Z-Trim.