Fats Role in Processed Foods

* information obtained from book – Salt, Sugar & Fat

Fat is seen as one of the most potent components of processed food, a pillar ingredient even more powerful than sugar.

Because of fat’s remarkable powers, the processed food industry relies on it like no other component. Fat turns listless chips into crunchy marvels, parched breads into silky loaves, drab lunchmeat into savory delicatessen. Like sugar, some types of fat furnish processed foods with one of their most fundamental requirements: the capacity to sit on the grocery store shelf for days or months at a time.

Fat substitutes for water in lending tenderness and mouthfeel to crackers. It lessens the rubbery texture in hot dogs, deepens their color, keeps them from sticking to the grill, and, as an added bonus, saves the manufacture money, since the fattier the trimmings of the meat they use in making hot dogs cost less to buy than the leaner cuts.

Fat also performs a range of culinary tricks for food manufacturers, thanks to another of its extraordinary powers. It can mask and convey other flavors in foods, all at the same time. For example, if you were to eat sour cream, the fat would coat the tongue to keep the taste buds from getting too large a hit of these acids. Then, it reverses direction by stimulating and prolonging the tongue’s absorption of the sour cream more subtle and aromatic flavors, which of course is what food makers want the taste buds to convey to the brain.

If sugar is the methamphetamine of processed food ingredients, with its high-speed, blunt assault on our brains, then fat is the opiate, a smooth operator whose effects are less obvious but no less powerful.

Fat also performs a range of culinary tricks for food manufactures, thanks to another of its extraordinary powers. It can mask and convey other flavors in foods, all at the same time.

For example, if you were to eat sour cream which has acidic components; doesn’t taste good by itself. But when laced with fat, it coats the tongue to keep the taste buds from getting too large a hit of these acids.

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