The Quest for Healthier Processed Foods
Western societies are heavy consumers of processed foods. The convenience of these foods supports our busy lifestyles—but takes a toll on our health, causing numerous diet-related chronic diseases. New food technologies could help curb this plague of chronic illness.
The food industry is aware of these health issues, but is currently between a rock and a hard place: it is being mandated to eliminate trans fats and reduce saturated fats, but it also needs to maintain foods’ desired physical and sensory properties. Dr. Michael Rogers, Canada Research Chair in Food Nanotechnology, is helping to resolve this dilemma by developing technologies that will allow unsaturated oils—such as canola, soy and fish oil—to be structured into solid fats without adding trans or saturated fats.
Rogers is at the forefront of the field of oleocolloids (oil-continuous colloidal systems), where ground-breaking nanotechnologies are being applied to foods to form novel edible structures that offer better health outcomes. He and his research team are focusing on finding food-grade compounds that, when added to liquid oils, will transform the oils into solid fats, such as those in margarines and chocolates.
The technologies uncovered by Rogers and his team may ultimately transform how processed foods are structured and lead to healthier processed food options.