Over the years, many companies have had a crack at creating a healthier version of ice cream. And look, there have been some valiant attempts! But at the end of the day, you just can’t make ice cream without some form of saturated fat — it’s what makes it freeze with that nice, creamy texture. Which is a shame, really, because it’s the saturated fat (as well as the sugar) that makes the frozen treat damn unhealthy! Not only is it bad news for our waistlines, it’s been linked to higher cholesterol, heart disease and strokes.
One scientist from the University of Copenhagen, however, has taken on the challenge. Dr. Merete Bøgelund Munk is in the process of creating a method to alter the conventional structure of ice cream using unsaturated fat oil droplets.
Saturated vegetable fat is solid. So what I’m trying to do is to make ice cream with liquid oil … to create structure in the ice cream, to stabilise the ice cream, it is important that the lipid is solid and therefore we are structuring the liquid oil into solid fat by adding some structuring molecules.
-Dr Merete Bøgelund Munk via Reuters
The new and improved ice cream will be guilt-free in more ways than one. Many ice creams contain palm oil — an extremely unsustainable vegetable oil, the manufacturing of which is responsible for widespread rainforest destruction and threatening endangered species. Monk intends to replace this with a more sustainable alternative. “If you could select an oil that, for instance, was growing locally — let’s say here in the north there’s a lot of rapeseed oil being produced — so it would both mean for the manufacturer that that there will be a much bigger selection of oils but also that you can choose whatever oil that is growing near you,” said Dr Munk.
Yep, it’s pretty much going to be the holy grail of ice-cream! The research is being carried out in collaboration with Scandinavian fat supply giants, AAK. Dr Munk plans to test her new technique at production scale next month, while adding flavours. If the method is validated, AAK may seek to commercialise an ice cream free from saturated fat. Here’s hoping it hits the market by the end of summer!