The final butter substitute arrives: with the same creaminess, but it is 80% water (and low in calories)

Although butter is not as harmful as is usually believed, it is still a very caloric product that concentrates a large amount of saturated fat. Alternatives such as margarine are not usually good options, but a group of scientists at Cornell University has created what seems the final substitute, composed of 80% water.

The work, published in the magazine Applied Materials and Interfaces of the American Chemical Society (ACS), presents a product that offers the same creaminess of butter, even imitating the texture and mouthfeel produced by the dairy derivative, but considerably reducing fats. Made with 80% water and 20% oil, the key is in the emulsion process.

Live to the Palate How to replace butter with oil in baking recipes

Emulsifying two components that in principle cannot be mixed, such as water and oil, is a technique that we already apply at home, for example when making a vinaigrette or mayonnaise. But researchers have applied the process of highly concentrated emulsions ('HIPE', high-internal phase emulsions) to significantly increase the proportion of water, in a ratio of 4 to 1.

The emulsion process allows a large percentage of water to be used

In a common emulsion tiny spheres are formed, but with this process it is possible to begin to tighten and concentrate with each other, generating friction between them. There comes a time when the spheres can no longer slide, preventing flow. That's when you get a firm consistency, creamy and "spreadable," which behaves like butter.

The authors of the project highlight that this product opens many possibilities in the food industry to offer consumers a healthy alternative to butter, nice and with much less calories. While a tablespoon (15 ml) of butter contains about 11 g of fat and almost 100 kcal, the same amount of this substitute only provides 2.8 g of fat and 25.2 kcal.

One tablespoon of this substitute contains only about 25.2 kcal

It also has the advantage that specific components, such as dairy or vegetable proteins, can be added to add nutrients to the base product, and thus make it a more interesting food. In the same way it is possible play with flavorings and aromas to improve palatability and make the cream a complete substitute for traditional butter, combining flavor and texture.

Live to the PalateButter: is there any healthier?

Although when cooking we can almost always substitute butter and butter for healthy vegetable oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, milk fat has no competition as a spreadable cream. A vegetable substitute composed of 80% water and without trans fats could be the definitive alternative, also suitable for lactose intolerant, allergic or vegan.

Photos | Cornell University - iStock

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