Green Banana Flour Makes Healthy, Tasty Gluten-Free Pasta

By Chelsea Whyte on June 25, 2012 7:30 PM EDT

green bananas
Pasta made from green banana flour is a cheap alternative to other gluten-free pastas, and tasters liked it better than whole wheat flour. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Good news for gluten-free eaters. Researchers from the University of Brazil have developed a tasty alternative to current gluten-free pasta options. The new product is made from green banana flour and tasters found it more acceptable than regular whole wheat pasta.

"There was no significant different between the modified past and standard samples in terms of appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall quality," said lead investigator Renata Puppin Zandonadi from the university's Department of Nutrition.

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She and her team compared standard whole-wheat pasta preparation - from whole wheat flour and whole eggs - with one made from green banana flour, egg whites, water and gums, resulting in a pasta that is less sticky than typical gluten-free pastas. The banana flour also helps the food retain its firmess, moisture and elasticity.

The new pasta is also cheaper to produce than standard pastas because green bananas come fairly cheap.  "Green bananas are considered a sub-product of low commercial value with little industrial use," Zandonadi said.

 The changes they made reduced the fat content by 98 percent and increased the protein in the pasta. For those who suffer from celiac disease - which leaves the body intolerant to gluten found in wheat and other grains - the new pasta is a protein-laden alternative to other gluten-free foods.

Currently, pasta options for gluten-free eaters include that made of quinoa, corn, soybeans and potatoes, reports The Huffington Post.

The removal of gluten typically reduces some proteins which are responsible for some of the sensory characteristics of pasta, and many gluten-free foods compensate for this removal by adding high levels of fat.

The tasters included 25 people with celiac disease and 50 testers without the disease. Both groups accepted the banana flour pasta as better than whole wheat past in aroma, flavor, and texture, which gives the researchers hope that the pasta can be commercialized to a wider market than just those with celiac disease.

An estimated one in every 133 American suffers from celiac disease, and interest in gluten-free diet has increased sales of products free of gluten. According to market estimates, sales of gluten-free foods in the U.S. will exceed $5 billion by 2015, reports Medical Daily.

The banana leaf pasta has a high quantity of resistant starch, which can help control glycemic indexes, cholesterol, intestinal regularity, and fermentation by intestinal bacteria.

"Considering that untreated celiac disease promotes cancer in intestinal cells and a highly inflammatory mucosal status, developing gluten-free products with bioactive compounds such as the ones present in green banana flour is important for celiac disease patients," Zandonadi said. 

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