Almost all processed food, from bread to pastries to salad dressings, use emulsifiers and stabilisers to stop fat and water from separating
Millions of dieters have been offered hope after scientists discovered a way to modify everyday foods such as cakes and pastries to make diners feel full for twice as long.
British researchers have discovered that simply modifying a common ingredient in almost all processed food can double the time it takes to leave the stomach – and so stave off hunger pangs for twice as long.
The beauty of the breakthrough, by the Institute of Food Research and Nottingham University, is that it is so simple and uses food additives already used by the food industry.
Almost all processed food, from bread to pastries to salad dressings, use emulsifiers and stabilisers to stop fat and water from separating.
But some of those additives break down when they come into contact with the acid in the stomach and some do not.
Researchers found that by choosing the more stable version of the ingredient, it takes twice as long for the stomach to process the food and twice as long for people to be hungry again.
“This could mean that you have your cream cake but then not want a snack afterwards, ” said the senior research Richard Faulks at the Institute of Food Research.
Volunteers were fed a fatty test meal of olive oil and water comparable in volume to a large conventional meal and which was flavoured as a coffee milkshake-style drink.
One set used a kind of stabiliser called Tween 60, which is widely used in cakes and pastries, and the other used one called Span 80.
The two are chemically very similar, but Tween keeps the oil and water stable in the stomach, while Span allows it to break into a layer of water and a layer of oil.
The volunteers’ actual fullness, sense of fullness, appetite and hunger was monitored at hourly intervals for twelve hours with a scanner and by interviews.
After one hour, there was twice as much volume in the stomachs of people who had drunk the stable mixture.
This is because when the water separates, it leaves the stomach much more quickly, but when it stays mixed with the oil, it stays in the stomach for longer.
The stable emulsion meal also made subjects feel fuller, less hungry and have less appetite compared to the unstable meal.
The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.
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