USDA Develops Tasty, No-Cal,
High-Fiber Fat Substitute
By Ben Hardin
August 26, 1996
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
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.
Scientific contact: George E. Inglett,
Biopolymer Research, National
Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, ARS, USDA, Peoria, Ill. 61604;
phone: (309) 681-6363.