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article imageHealthy butter developed, and it's almost entirely water

By Tim Sandle     Sep 5, 2019 in Food
Food technologists have developed a low-calorie 'butter' spread formed primarily of water. One tablespoon of the low-calorie spread contains 2.8 grams of fat and 25.2 calories. This contrasts with butter - 11 grams of fat and nearly 100 calories.
The new research comes from Cornell University, where food scientists calculated how to successfully to emulsify a large quantity of water mixed with minuscule drops of vegetable oil and milk fat. This process mimics butter, and produces a food product that has only one-fourth the calories of real butter and without the need for any artificial stabilizers.
Commenting on the process, lead researcher Professor Alireza Abbaspourrad states: "Imagine 80 percent water in 20 percent oil and we create something with the consistency of butter, with the mouth feel of butter and creaminess of butter."
The basis of Professor Abbaspourrad's process is not, in itself, new (in terms of the emulsification of water and oil). However, the application of high-internal phase emulsions is something different. This process enabled the food scientists to continually add water to that oil until the final composition reached 80 percent water and 20 percent oil. This new gel-in-gel water-in-oil technology has been demonstrated as being capable of producing effective high water-to-oil ratio, plus delivering unique texture and functionality.
This creates a low-fat, high-protein product and such products are currently being sough by consumers, in keeping with health advice. Protein, in particular, is an essential nutrient, needed for multiple functions in your body, such as building tissue, cells and muscle, as well as making hormones and antibodies.
By experimenting with the new process it will be possible to make adjustments for taste, preferences, and health. According to Professor Abbaspourrad: "We can add milk protein or plant-based protein, and since the water acts like a carrier, we can adjust for nutrition and load it with vitamins or add flavors. Essentially, we can create something that makes it feel like butter—and instead of seeing a lot of saturated fat, this has minute amounts. It's a completely different formulation."
The research is published in the journal ACS Applied Matter interfaces: "Ultrastable Water-in-Oil High Internal Phase Emulsions Featuring Interfacial and Biphasic Network Stabilization."
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