Reducing the fat content in fried foods
Many people enjoy eating deep-fat fried foods, especially in Western countries such as the United States. It’s estimated that 25% to 36% of adults in North America consume food from fast-food restaurants daily, and fried products make up a substantial percentage of the items sold at such establishments. However, consumption of these foods has been associated with coronary heart diseases, obesity and Type 2 diabetes, because of high fat content. Public health would benefit from a food preparation approach that offers consumers an appealing and healthier alternative to traditionally deep-fried foods without sacrificing flavor.
Researchers with the North Carolina A&T State University Agricultural Research Station are investigating the use of a coating that would produce fried food with significantly reduced fat content: an edible, protein-based batter that retains moisture while reducing fat absorption during frying. Scientists isolated a protein from chicken and fish byproducts, which has been used to develop edible coatings, and have successfully isolated the pure protein from muscle-based food processing byproducts. These proteins have been solidified using a sweet potato, starch-based batter. The application of this edible natural coating, consisting of 15% protein, and sweet potato batter reduced fat intake by 85% in fish and chicken without any change in the color, pH and sensory properties of the food. Also, this reduced the moisture loss in fried chicken and fish.
Further research and development of this product could benefit both the food industry and fried-food lovers looking to be more health-conscious without having to fully sacrifice such indulgences.