From Science Daily:
Fat free ice cream, for all its healthy merits, melts the wrong way. Two seconds on the tongue and it’s a slush of milk, flavoring and water instead of the rich glob of slowly melting cream we grew to love as kids. When it comes to taste memories, fats are forever.
Now X-ray science is contributing to the long quest to understand what makes chocolate and cheese taste so good and how the taste and “mouth feel” of yummy fats could be mimicked in healthier alternatives.
To study the molecular structure of edible fats, researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, are using X-rays at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.
The basic molecules making up edible fats are triglycerides (TAGs), or three hydrocarbon chains known as fatty acids and a sweet-tasting glycerol molecule. The good news is that TAGs are essential to the body, but the bad news is that excess build-up of TAGs can cause health problems, such as type II diabetes and obesity, which is why scientists are interested in learning what it is about their structure that makes them irresistible.
“Fats are complex systems,” said Fernanda Peyronel, research associate at the University of Guelph. “Some edible fats like plant oils might contain only a few TAGs while milk fat contains more than 200. And when fat is manufactured for human consumption, TAGs from different sources are melted,…