WASHINGTON, Aug. 26--Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a substitute fat that pleases the palate and adds fiber without adding a single calorie.
The ersatz fat, called Z-Trim, offers a healthful alternative to consumers who want to avoid the fat calories in certain foods, yet crave good taste and pleasing texture. Z-Trim is made from a variety of low-cost agricultural byproducts such as hulls of oats, soybeans, peas and rice, or bran from corn or wheat. The hulls are processed into microscopic fragments, purified, and dried and milled to an easy-flowing powder. When the fragments absorb water, they swell to provide a smooth mouth feel.
Since Z-Trim is made from natural dietary fibers, it will not upset the digestive system when consumed in ordinary amounts.
"Z-Trim is another example of how agriculture research makes a difference in the lives of consumers," said Glickman. "Too often we mistakenly think that agricultural science doesn't matter, that it doesn't touch our lives. But, in fact these kinds of discoveries and inventions can be seen up and down the aisles of every supermarket in this country."
"Z-Trim will give consumers low-calorie, high-fiber, reduced-fat products that still have good "mouth feel," said Glickman. "Offering a good-tasting option to high-calorie indulgences will help people like me stick to our diets and lose our extra pounds.
"A consumer who normally eats 3,500 calories a day could cut as many as 700 calories by eating the same kinds of food in the same volume, but adding about half an ounce of Z-Trim to replace fat."
Inventor George E. Inglett, a chemist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service said that Z-Trim can supply important texture qualities such as appropriate moistness, density, and smoothness in foods ranging from reduced-calorie cheese products and hamburger to baked goods. It can also replace some flour in baked goods.
At the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research at Peoria, Ill., where Inglett works, food scientist Kathleen Warner made Z-Trim foods for trained sensory panelists. The panelists gave equal marks to standard brownies containing 25 percent fat and Z-Trim brownies with only 15.5 percent fat. In the low-cal Z-Trim brownies, about one-half teaspoon of Z-Trim replaced 29 grams of fat and reduced the normal amount of flour by half.
In 90- to 92-percent-lean ground beef patties, a gel of Z-Trim and water can replace up to 15 percent of the fat, Warner said. Using Z-Trim also boosts the meat's tenderness and juiciness, she added.
ARS has applied for a patent on the process for making the new fat replacer. Once the patent has been received, ARS will license the process to private companies to develop commercial products. Inglett, who also invented Oatrim-10, an earlier fat substitute, has already developed a 1-ounce chocolate bar containing half a gram of Z-Trim, oat fiber, corn syrup, milk chocolate, artificial sweetener, and 1 gram of soluble beta-glucan from Oatrim-10.
NOTE TO EDITORS: Contact for details: George E. Inglett, Biopolymer Research, National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, Peoria, Ill. 61604. Telephone: (309) 681-6363.