George E. Inglett of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Biopolymer Research Unit in Peoria III invented a no-calorie fat substitute called Z-Trim. It is a mix of crushed fibers made from the hulls of grains. It can replace the fat and some of the carbohydrates in foods such as chocolates, brownies, cheese, and ground beef. He spent three years trying to perfect Z-Trim to be smooth because he made it out of tough hulls of corn, oats, and rice. He first crushed the hulls with a solution of hydrogen peroxide. He washed the peroxide off in centrifuge. After this step it was still too large, so he put the pieces back through the first step of the hydrogen peroxide and the centrifuge. That made it smooth. Now, it is a fine, white cellulose powder that can be made into a gel by adding water.
Inglett also developed Oatrim. This is made up of a digestible fiber from oat flour that provides four calories per gram.
Z-Trim compared to another fat substitute, olestra, is different. Olestra can cause gastrointestinal distress and take vitamins and carotenoids out of the body. The new substitute does not have those affects. Inglett says that you should eat more of the kind of fibers that make up Z-Trim to reduce the chances of getting intestinal disorders.
But there are some people who argue with Inglett's theory on his new substitute. "I wouldn't expect Z-Trim to have the same kinds of problems as olestra," says Margo Wootan, a senior scientist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. "Fiber is already found in our diet, while olestra is a synthetic chemical. There is also concern for the "microbial stability" of foods containing Z-Trim. "Whenever you remove the lipid material and replace it with water," says Thomas H. Parliament, a flavor chemist for Kraft Foods in White Plains, New York, "microbes are to grow, and you can get mold." That would have to be worked out before...