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With growing demand for healthier food in India, the challenge for formulators is to manufacture healthy food products without compromising the taste profile, says Prakash Chawla

Prakash Chawla

Despite the challenges, food industry in India has recorded a phenomenal growth in the last few years. Rapid urbanisation, changing lifestyles, and above all rising disposable income are the major contributing factors for this growth. However, sedentary living, higher work stress, rising pollution levels and unhealthy eating habits, lifestyle disorders/diseases are gaining prominence in India. With growing concerns about lifestyle diseases, consumers are also gradually becoming health conscious and are demanding healthier foods. Therefore, it is now a challenge for formulators to manufacture healthy food products without compromising the taste profile.

Importance of oils and fats

Oils and fats play a vital role in nutrition and food preparation by enhancing the taste, adding texture and conducting heat during cooking. Oils/fats are the most efficient source of food energy. Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for the body, compared to four calories per gram for carbohydrates and proteins. They help the body use vitamins and act as carriers for oil soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K helping in nourishing the skin and hair. Many of the vital organs, especially the kidney, heart, and intestines are cushioned by fat that helps protect them from injury and form a major component of cell membranes. Hence oils and fats form an integral part of any healthy and balanced diet. Though excess of oil/ fat is considered to be the reason for many lifestyle diseases, right quality and quantity of fat is required for normal functioning of the body. A diet very low or high in oil/fat may not be optimal for good health. Intake of fats also affects the blood cholesterol levels which is directly linked to heart disease, the most common being the coronary heart disease or CHD.

Trans fats and its nutritional significance

Before 1990, very little was known about how trans fat can harm your health. In the 1990s, research began identifying the adverse health effects of trans fats and it was discovered that trans fats are present in hydrogenated fats like Vanaspati, margarines and shortenings. They are also found in many food products like baked goods including pastries, pie crusts, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, french fries, doughnuts, etc.

There are four basic types of fats: monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs), saturated fats (SAFAs) and trans fats. MUFAs and PUFAs are healthy fats; trans and to some extent SAFAs are unhealthy fats.

Trans fats which are formed during the process of hydrogenation tend to increase the LDL level which is the bad cholesterol and decrease the good cholesterol i.e. the HDL which may lead to cardio vascular disease (CVD).

Trans fats also increase triglyceride levels in the blood, adding to our risk of heart disease. Consumption of trans fats can also lead to diabetes, obesity and immune system dysfunction. Hence trans fat is considered as the most harmful type of fat.

Current scenario

Globally there has been a trend to produce trans free/low trans containing food products. The American Heart Association and World health Organisation recommend limiting the amount of trans fat intake to less than one per cent of total daily calories. That means if an average individual needs 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats. That is less than two grams of trans fats a day.

The Food Safety Standards Act of India (FSSAI) has issued notifications to amend the Food Safety Standards Regulations 2011 and has put a limit of 10 per cent maximum for trans fats in Vanaspati, bakery shortening and margarine. The content of trans fats and saturated fats also needs to be declared in the labels of packaged foods along with other nutritional information.

Challenges

Oils and fats manufacturing companies are now gearing up to market low trans or trans free products. In order to cater to the needs of modern consumers and promote healthy eating habits, Kamani Oil Industries has established itself as a pioneer in developing trans free products for the food industry and 99 per cent of our products cater to various food catergories like bakery, confectionery, frozen desserts, dairy segment, nutritional and culinary food segments.

Recommended good frying practices

  • Filter oil daily to discard burnt particles
  • Fryer should be cleaned everyday with a dry cloth
  • Constant level of oil in fryer should be maintained
  • Over loading of fryer should be avoided
  • Over heating of oil to be avoided
  • Constant frying temperature to be maintained
  • Exposure to air, light, high temperature (when not in use) is to be avoided.

(The author is director, Kamani Oil Industries)

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