Industry warned over nutritional content of gluten-free products

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Gluten-free diet Gluten-free products Gluten-free food market Wheat

Baked goods and food manufacturers should focus on boosting the nutritional content of gluten-free products as well as enhancing texture and taste at the formulation stage, argues a leading nutritionist.

Shelley Case, dietitian and author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide​ was speaking during a panel discussion at this week’s International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas.

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.

Case argues that these alternatives to white flour and whole wheat flour based products can lack protein, fiber, iron, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. And the dietitian claims there is little research into nutritional status of people who follow a gluten-free diet.

The gluten-free food market is buoyant, and was worth almost $1.6bn last year, according to Packaged Facts. Indeed, the analysts said that the sector experienced a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) 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.

Meanwhile, a recent study indicated that enhancing bread formulations with buckwheat flour could create high quality, antioxidant rich products for the gluten-free sector.

The research, published in International Journal of Food Science and Technology, ​suggests that using 40 per cent buckwheat flour in gluten-free bread could create gluten free bread “with more functional components and higher anti-oxidative and reducing capacities.”

Buckwheat flour contains high-quality proteins, and is rich in antioxidants and minerals such as, flavonoids, phenolic acids, B vitamins, and carotenoids.

The new study used flour from common buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum Moench​ to substitute between ten and 40 per cent corn starch - the main component of gluten-free bread - to make buckwheat-enhanced gluten-free breads.

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