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Proteins could take the place of fats in diet cheeses and cakes


July 10, 2014

Modified proteins could allow for low-fat cakes and cheeses which don't have that "low-cal" taste (Photo: Shutterstock)

Modified proteins could allow for low-fat cakes and cheeses which don't have that "low-cal" taste (Photo: Shutterstock)

Dieters take note! It may soon be possible to buy low-fat cakes and cheeses that have the same taste and texture as their waistline-increasing counterparts. Research conducted at Scotland's Heriot-Watt University and University of Edinburgh has resulted in a method of using proteins to "fill in" for fats.

Previous studies have already led to the production of protein-for-fat yogurts and other creamy goods, but the substitution process wasn't deemed convincing enough to work on firmer foods.

By studying the manner in which the chemical structure of proteins changes when they're heated or otherwise processed, however, the Scottish scientists were able to create modified proteins that behave more like fats. More specifically, these proteins are better at breaking down into micro-particles when processed, much as fats do.

It is hoped that once the proteins are perfected, they will allow food manufacturers to include less fat in their products without affecting quality – a computer model is being developed to let those manufacturers know what amount of the proteins will be needed for different types of foods.

Additionally, because the proteins are particularly good at mimicking the gelling effect of eggs, users could conceivably save money by not having to use as many eggs.

The technology is the result of a three-year research project, and is being developed further by spin-off company Nandi Proteins. The protein-for-fat cakes, cheeses and other food products could start showing up commercially within two years.

Source: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

The biggest issue IMO is not fat but carbs. Find a way to fill in for those and then you're on to something.

Bryan Rule

Well this is a possible step forward. Currently, "Low Fat" means "High Carb", and actually it's the carbs that's the worse of the 3 (Fat, Carbs, Protein).

Ele Truk

Watch the movie "fat head" to inform yourself about fats vs carbs (sugars). Do some research on stuff like the keto diet instead of just listening to what people say.

Ben O'Brien

Or you could just eat normal food. If you want to reduce the amount of fat you eat just eat foods that have less fat in them. I've always been confused as to why someone would want some industrially manufactured ice cream with 30% less fat when you could simply eat 30% less ice cream for the same effect without the concern that you are eating unusual molecules with possible poor long term effects.

Having said that, protein substitution is probably better than sugar substitution.


this could be very useful for people that are on a high protein diet, like those exercising a lot and building muscle. I would like it.


Obesity being the problem that it is and fact that there doesn't seem to be much in the way of improvement, I suppose we have to be grateful for any progress the food industry might make towards reducing the problem.

I'll bow to other commenters' greater knowledge of the subject food and it ability to fatten, but I do wonder if the only way we are going to get healthy food and consequent healthy people is for there to be some sanction applied to any food manufacturers who use too much of an ingredient than is necessary. One sees so many videos on the subject that seem to point the finger of blame at the food industry, starting with corn syrup and so on, that it seems action is possible, given the will.

Mel Tisdale

Terrible idea? Good idea? Do we know?

The inventors and promoters of hydrogenated oils thought it was our savior, but turned out badly.

I agree with the others that the scientific evidence now clearly shows carbs, especially sugar, and especially the half of sugar called fructose, has always been the problem, NOT FAT.

Look up the book "Big Fat Surprise", an exhaustive review of how the "science" behind low fat was hijacked by politics and bad scientists.

EAT MORE FAT and live longer.


Sometime around 1974 one of the snack chip makers proudly championed hydrogenated trans fats for greatly increasing the shelf life of their products. I decided right then that a food element that resists oxygen probably would not metabolize well in ways that were not known, and are now known to be bad. Furthermore such food is stuff that I should not eat. Ever since then I have tried to limit eating trans fats in any food. I actually do read the labels, always have. This latest idea only reminds me of Olestra and Jay Leno's generous efforts to highlight "anal leakage". Better that everyone should just eat modest amounts of real food and then get on your feet and do something physical.


An important distinction should be made between the different kinds of fats and oils. Unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil is good for the body, saturated is not. Spending that extra money to buy the right kind of oil makes that difference. Eat omega-3 fatty acids in fish/seaweed. Educate yourself on what your body needs.

Fretting Freddy the Ferret pressing the Fret

Carbs are in EVERYTHING though... what are we supposed to do???


The less processed the better. Cooking is processing. Therefore eat raw. Nut butter, cacao, honey, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice can be raw and taste fine. Fats, such as in the very high fat avocado, nuts, seeds, coconut are essential. Cholesterol can be high or low, without problem.

The FDA does not test. It takes the corporation's tests as proof of safety. If their tests prove to be false, inaccurate, or incomplete, and the product is harmful, no problem, the system remains. They say GMOs are safe. I have no idea, and no trust in govt. or their crony crapitalists so I abstain.

Don Duncan

processing means grinding up. Grinding stuff up makes the body absorb it more quickly. That's why cornflakes have a higher GI than pure sucrose.

As for fat. Saturated fats are not bad. They are GOOD! They slow the body's absorption of carbs, and reduce sugar and insulin spikes.

So going low fat was a huge mistake.

Any type 1 diabetic knows this, and anyone using a CGM can demonstrate it.

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