Fat Alternatives and Fat Replacers

Fat Alternatives and Fat Replacers: Main Image


Cholesterol-lowering margarine (e.g., Benecol®) is a spreadable margarine product fortified with compounds called phytostanol esters that block the absorption of dietary cholesterol, thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels. In September 2000, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of a health claim on foods containing phytostanol esters that links the consumption of phytostanol esters with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Diet margarine contains a higher content of water and is lower in fat than conventional margarine.

Oil spray (e.g., Pam®) is made of oil combined with lecithin (an emulsifier derived from soybeans). These sprays prevent food from sticking to pans, thereby eliminating the need to add cooking oil to the pan, which reduces fat intake.

Fruit-based fat substitutes are used in baking low-fat recipes to provide a texture and mouth-feel that is similar to fat.

Simplesse® is made from whey (a milk protein) and egg white and provides about one-quarter as many calories as fat. This product is used in place of fat in food manufacturing.

Oatrim (Beta-Trim®, TrimChoice®) is made from enzyme-treated oat flour. Oatrim is used in place of conventional fats in food manufacturing.

Olestra (Olean®) is a non-caloric fat replacement used in the manufacture of low- and fat-free snack foods. Olestra molecules are very large—too big, in fact, to be absorbed in the digestive tract. Consequently, Olestra passes through the digestive tract and is eliminated in the feces without being absorbed. In some people, consumption of foods containing Olestra causes intestinal discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea. Therefore, foods containing Olestra are required to bear the warning: “May cause abdominal cramping and loose stools.”

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The information presented in the Food Guide is for informational purposes only and was created by a team of US–registered dietitians and food experts. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements, making dietary changes, or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2024.