Olestra is a widely used fat substitute, for example in Lay’s Light Chips, Pringles Light chips etc.
Olestra is Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) synthetic fat which is not absorbed as it passes through the digestive system, so it has no calories. P&G suggests that replacing regular fat with olestra would help people lose weight and lower the risk of heart disease.
Effects of Olestra on the body
Olestra can cause diarrhea and loose stools, abdominal cramps, flatulence, and other adverse effects.
Olestra reduces the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble carotenoids (such as alpha and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and canthaxanthin) from fruits and vegetables.
Olestra enables food companies to offer greasy low-fat snacks, but we believe that consumers would be better off with baked snacks, which are safe and just as low in calories.
Olestra found to deplete blood levels of many valuable fat-soluble substances, including carotenoids
In a four-week study conducted in Holland, 3 gm/day or just 6 potato chips containing olestra caused a 20% decline in beta-carotene levels and a 38% decrease in lycopene, another key carotenoid.
Feeding olestra regularly with one or more meals was done in several clinical studies, resulting in the greatest depletion of carotenoids.
Olestra’s depletion of carotenoids is of great concern because many studies indicate that carotenoids may confer important health benefits. The physiological activities of fat-soluble plant nutrients are just now being elucidated.
Cancer experts are urging people to eat much greater quantities of vegetables and fruits, in part because of their carotenoids and other phytochemicals. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids have reduced cancer incidence in animals exposed to carcinogens.