Regulatory requirements have been restricting the use of hydrogenated and trans- fats in food products, as well as the awareness of a great mass of consumers for a healthier diet, sets up a conjuncture in which the food industry is encouraged to seek new alternatives for fat replacement, but with no changes in physical and sensorial properties of the final product. Conventional approach structuring oils is based on the nucleation and crystal growth, but this route brings some disadvantages as nutritional value, due to the high amount of trans fatty acids or saturated fats, and in process conditions. An emerging strategy is the physical structuring liquid oils and gelling due to self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules of low molecular weight (bulking agent or gelator) in organic solvents, giving rise to systems known as oleogel or organogel. In recent years, the non-triglyceride structuring of edible oils have shown strong potential as a means to replace hard-stock fats in food products. These systems have been explored in related areas such as petroleum, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; by contrast, the application of these with the proposed structure in foods is relatively new. The appropriate combination of solvent and gelator capable of forming gels is still empirical, and a challenge when it limits the use of food-grade components. The study of rationality involved in obtaining these gels becomes relevant, to predict efficient combination and intrinsic characteristics of these gels. In this sense, the microstructural characterization, rheological, morphological and thermal may help to elucidate the formation and behavior of gels. Thus, this project aims to understand the mechanisms involved in the formation of organogels using different structuring agents as well as organic solvents in order to discern characteristics or properties that make pairs form gels or not. The purity and chemical characteristics of gelators and the solubility of the organic phase will be assessed. The results to be obtained will help in the development and understanding of gelled systems from food-grade structural, given the motivation replacement fats in food formulations.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: