Argentinian legume shows promise for gluten-free

Related tags Nutrition Wheat

Mixing seeds of the vinal plant with corn flour may produce gluten-free formulations with enhanced protein and antioxidant levels, says a new study from Argentina.

Writing in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition​, researchers from the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Santa Fe, Argentina report that the protein content of the prototype bread exceeded those measured in “gluten-free breads found in local commercial markets”​.

If future studies support the apparent potential of the Argentinian legume, it may see vinal (Prosopis ruscifolia​) added to the ever-growing list of alternatives for gluten-free formulators.

The gluten-free food market is blossoming and was worth almost $1.6bn last year, according to Packaged Facts. The market is experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 28 per cent over four years.

Sufferers of coeliac disease have to avoid all gluten in their diet, but diagnosis is not the only factor. Other sectors of the population, such as those who have self-diagnosed wheat or gluten intolerance or who believe gluten-free to be a healthier way of eating, are also strong drivers.

But against this backdrop of popularity, there have been concerns that some gluten-free products on the market made with rice, corn and potato flour and xanthan or guar gum to improve texture have sub-optimal levels of essential nutrients.

The new research suggests that vinal may enhance the protein and antioxidant content of bread formulations. The Argentinian researchers formulated a gluten-free bread with vinal seeds and corn flour. According to tasting by an expert panel, the optimal formulation produced a bread with significantly more protein (5.2 grams per 100 grams), compared with commercial gluten-free formulations.

Furthermore, the researchers report an increase in antioxidant activity in the vinal-containing breads. Significant further researchers is needed to establish if the breads would be widely accepted, and if the supply of vinal seeds could would make the breads commercially viable.

Such issues are currently hampering the use of a variety of so-called ancient grains in gluten-free formulations. In a review in the journal Trends in Food Science & Technology​ (2010, Vol. 21, pp 106-113) Irish researchers noted that, despite the successful formulation of gluten-free products using these ‘pseudo-cereals’ “availability of these products in the market is still quite limited. More research is necessary to fully exploit the functionality of these seeds as gluten-free ingredients in the production of palatable products which are also nutritionally balanced”.

Source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3109/09637480903373336
Gluten-free bread formulated with Prosopis ruscifolia (vinal) seed and corn flours”
Authors: C. Bernardi, H. Sánchez, M. Freyre, C. Osella

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