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Food substitution

Food substitution

Food substitution refers to the reformulation of food and beverage products with substitution of one ingredient with another.


Food substitution refers to the undertaking of the reformulation of food and beverage products with one ingredient substituted for another. This can be done for cost or nutrition reasons, with manufacturers often looking for a substitute to meet the cost or nutrition reasons without changing the taste or perception of the product by consumers. This can include the substitution of popular ingredients with nutrition concerns, including fat, salt, and sugar.

Fat substitutes

Fat substitutes are compounds that physically and chemically resemble triglycerides and are stable to cooking and frying temperatures. Sugar or sugar alcohol fatty acid esters such as sucrose polyester, sorbitol polyester, and raffinose are among the more often studied substitutes for fat. These substitutes are designed to mimic one or more of the roles of fat in foods. The calorie density of fat substitutes can vary from virtually none to 9 calories per gram. Some fat substitutes can achieve the functional qualities of fat.

The specific fat substitute used in a food product may be the result of its functional properties, but federal regulation may also restrict foods in which specific fat substitutes may be used. Fat replacers can be categorized on the basis of the macronutrients source:

  • Carbohydrate-based: these are made from starchy foods, such as corn, cereals, and grains. Most fat replacers are made from carbohydrate, with examples including cellulose, gelatin, dextrins, gums, and modified dietary fibers.
  • Protein-based: these are made by modifying protein, using egg white or whey from milk. Examples include whey protein and microparticulated egg white and milk protein.
  • Fat-based: these are made by replacing triglycerides in vegetable oils, with examples including caprenin, salatrim, and olestra.

Fat substitute companies

Salt substitutes
Potassium chloride

Salt substitutes have been posited as a healthy alternative to lower some people's consumption. Typically, salt substitutes swap sodium chloride for potassium chloride. However, this substitution can be dangerous when people have conditions such as kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, or diabetes.

Monosodium glutamate

The other salt substitute often used is monosodium glutamate (MSG), which has been found to be a safe salt substitute in moderation. However, MSG has been shown to include short-term symptoms in a minority of people, with symptoms including nausea, tightness in the chest, or a burning sensation in the skin around the neck, face, and upper torso.

Salt substitute companies

Sugar substitutes

Sugar substitutes are chemical or plant-based substances used to sweeten or enhance the flavor of foods and drinks, also known as artificial sweeteners or non-caloric sweeteners. These can be used as tabletop sweeteners or as ingredients in processed foods and drinks. Many of these substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, and some are substitutes low in calories, while others have no calories. Sugar substitutes are regulated as food additives by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means the FDA reviews the substitutes to be sure they are safe for use in foods and drinks.

Types of substitutes

Sugar substitutes can be broken down into two categories: natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners are sugar substitutes often promoted as healthier options than sugar or other sugar substitutes. these options often undergo processing and refining. Those recognized as generally safe by the FDA include the following:

  • Fruit juices and nectars
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Maple syrup

Artificial sweeteners are synthetic substitutes, which may be derived from naturally occurring substances, such as herbs or sugar itself. Artificial sweeteners are known as intense sweeteners because they are many times sweeter than sugar. These can be attractive alternatives to sugar as they add almost no calories to a diet, and people only need a fraction of artificial sweetener compared with the amount of sugar normally used for sweetness. Artificial sweeteners are widely used in a variety of processed foods:

  • Soft drinks
  • Baked goods
  • Candy
  • Puddings
  • Canned foods
  • Jams and jellies
  • Dairy products

Sugar substitute companies


January 28, 2022
Chips with olestra cause body toxins to dip, study finds
January 28, 2022
Fat Substitutes Market to Grow with a Healthy CAGR of 5.9% by the End of 2031
January 14, 2022
Mothers-to-be who consume artificial sweeteners may be more likely to have fat children, study warns
January 13, 2022
Sugar Substitutes Market Worth USD 35,262.34 million by 2029 - Presents Market Shares CAGR of 9.0%
December 1, 2021
Switching to a salt substitute may reduce stroke risk
October 10, 2021
Former CDC director: Low sodium salt could save millions of lives
September 20, 2021
Potassium-rich salt substitutes provide better CV protection than regular salt: NEJM study
October 25, 2004
CSPI Warns Consumers About Frito-Lay "Light" Chips with Olestra

Further reading


10 Alternatives to Refined Sugar

Jillian Kubala, MS, RD


October 21, 2021

Are Salt Substitutes a Healthy Way to Lower Your Sodium Intake?

Cora Liderbach


May 28, 2021

Are salt substitutes safe? - Pritikin Weight Loss Resort


November 28, 2014

Do Salt Substitutes Improve Your Heart Health? Here's What Experts Think

Michelle Pugle


September 1, 2021

Fat Replacers in Food | Michigan Medicine


Documentaries, videos and podcasts



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