A team of Mexican researchers received the Timothy L. Mounts Award, which is awarded by the Division of Edible Applications of Lipids and Vegetable Oils of the American Society of Chemistry and Physicochemistry of Oils (AOCS).
The group led by Jorge Toro, developed a healthy alternative to the use of trans fatty acids in processed foods, in order to produce products that are not harmful to people´s health.
This is the first time this award is given to a group of scientists from Mexico or even from Latin America; the project consists of a process called organogelation, which took more than 10 years to develop.
The researchers, from the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí (UASLP), created this process that consists in the addition of small molecule vegetable oil, which has the capacity to self-assemble and thus form a three-dimensional structure that “imprisons” the liquid part of the oil to give it an elastic texture.
The organogelation is achieved thanks to the addition of these small molecules that come from natural sources such as candelilla wax, a shrub that grows in northern Mexico, as well as other natural sources.
The advantage of this process is that it does not alter the molecular structure of the oils, and its use is effective even at very low concentrations, so that it can solidify up to 90 or 95 percent of the oil.
This process will help companies make their products but without the use of trans fatty acids, which are a major cause of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
The project continues to be analyzed, but it is hoped that in the near future processes like this will completely eliminate the use of fats that are harmful to humans and thus reduce considerably the number of cardiovascular diseases.