used in applications where robust flavor is called for; coffee, chocolate, and sauces are examples.
The trouble with fats is that the ones that are good for you are usually the most unstable. For the sake of ease and shelf
life, many processors have used unhealthy saturated fats or partially hydrated trans-fats.
The latter has not really been developed
in organic, and hopefully never will, considering the fact that it lowers your good
cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol at
the same time. Plus, it’s one of the top
ingredients consumers look to avoid.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, omega-3s are a fat that consumers actually want in a product.
Shown to be especially important for
the brain and the heart, omega 3s are
Chia is not just for growing on
found in hemp, flax, fish oil (a organic terracotta animals anymore; it
compliant ingredient) and algae. Chia has high levels of omega 3s.
seed, an Aztec superfood, is another high omega 3 ingredient that
has been getting more attention. Navitas Naturals just launched the
first sprouted milled chia seed powder, which is stable (without refrig-
eration) and gels up nicely in food like hot cereals.
Although omega 3s are the most susceptible to oxidation, many
processors are still finding ways to incorporate them successfully. New
flax and hemp baked products are coming out all the time, and many
functional beverages are being fortified with spirulina and chlorella
algae. While heat is an omega’s worst enemy, there is a new omega oil
blend that can even be used for frying and in aseptic packaged and
Because soybeans are about 7 percent omega 3, (linolenic acid),
they are somewhat unstable and thus soy oil is often hydrogenated.
Although newer, more stable forms of soybean oil from low linolenic
soybeans have been cross-bred for standard applications, they have
not reached the organic market. With linolenic acid most likely to
oxidize and produce off flavors, the organic solution is to turn to oils
with a different fatty acid profile, ones rich in monounsaturated fatty
acids. Because olive oil is strong-flavored and relatively expensive,
canola and high oleic versions of sunflower oil are becoming preferred choices where the applications call for liquid oils.
Expeller-pressed canola and soybean oils can have the stability
equal to or better than partially hydrogenated soybean oil. Their
unique properties are due to the method of refining that shuns the
typical hexane solvent extraction. Both oils are ideal for a variety of
commercial purposes, including, par-frying and IQF, snack foods,
dressings, sauces, mayonnaise, and other foodservice applications.
Filling Up With Fiber
A popular alternative to avoiding calories from fats and sugars is to
increase the fiber content of foods. There are several ways of getting
fiber into the diet, most of which we
are all familiar with—whole grains,
beans, fruits and vegetables. Seeds
such as flax, chia and hemp are also
high in fiber. Americans recognize
the need for fiber, but don’t want to
taste it. So manufactures have made
fiber into a more attractive and versatile ingredient.
Stonyfield Farms’ organic dairy
adds inulin, a fructose polymer, to its
fat-free yogurt as both thickener and
source of fiber. Inulin functions
much like soluble fiber, slowing the
entrance of sugar into the blood and
acting as a prebiotic, the food for
friendly gut bacteria. The taste of
inulin tends to be either bland or
slightly sweet. As a food additive,
inulin can replace sugar, fat and flour
to drive down the calorie content of
the food, with the side benefit of
increasing the absorption of calcium.
Resistant starch, the portion of
starchy food that reaches the colon
undigested, also acts as a prebiotic.
This comes from starches that are
high in amylose, the more straight
chain of the starches, or rich in retrograde starch—starch that has cooled
At present, there is no organic
high amylose corn from which resistant starch is produced, but it is a
product to watch for in the future, as
it has many of the same properties of
A form of fiber used in food bars is
the gum of the acacia tree. Gums
tend to swell with water and slow
small intestinal transit time, which has
the effect of reducing the absorption
rate of sugars. Escaping digestion,
gums migrate to the colon to act as a
prebiotic, the same as any other soluble fiber. Acacia fiber, however, may
hold down colonic fermentation,
which decreases gas and bloating.
Acacia gum is often used in conjunction with flax seed, a contrasting
insoluble fiber that is rich in lignans,
plant phytoestrogens that act like