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Buckwheat flour potential expands for gluten-free bread options

By Stephen Daniells , 15-Apr-2010

A combination of buckwheat and rice flour may produce gluten-free breads acceptable to consumers without the need for hydrocolloids, says new research from Eastern Europe.

The findings could lead to enhanced products for the blossoming gluten-free food market, worth almost $1.6bn last year, according to Packaged Facts, and 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, published in Food Hydrocolloids, reports that consumers accepted gluten-free bread prepared with the mixture of rice and buckwheat flour, which were formulated without the need for additional hydrocolloids, including guar gum, xanthan gum, and HPMC

There is increasing focus on the potential of alternative grains like buckwheat to formulate gluten-free foods with additional nutritional benefits.

Indeed, according to the Serbian researchers, “most of the gluten-free products are on starch or rice basis with the addition of different types of hydrocolloids. However, the gluten-free formulations containing gums as the gluten replacements lack in fibres and nutrients.

“Therefore [we aimed] to prepare gluten-free product which would contain rice and buckwheat flour, which is known as nutritionally improved [flour],” they said.

Formulation details

Led by Aleksandra Torbica, researchers from the Institute for Food Technology at the University of Novi Sad formulated a range of gluten-free products with varying ratios of rice flour to buckwheat flour of 90:10, 80:20 and 70:30. The researchers used by husked and unhusked buckwheat flour.

Results showed that the unhusked buckwheat flour-containing products were less stable with weaker protein networks than husked buckwheat flour-containing products.

When tested by a panel of 10 trained tasters, and despite the differences between formulations and varieties of buckwheat flour, all “all six combinations of tested gluten-free breads were sensory acceptable”, said the researchers.

Nutrition benefits

Previously, scientists from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in New York reported that replacing standard gluten-free flours with those made from ‘alternative’ grains like oats and quinoa may improve intakes of protein, iron, calcium and fibre.

“By adding three servings of gluten-free alternative grains, the nutrients (fiber, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate and iron) are improved,” wrote the researchers, led by Anne Lee, in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

Supply issues

In a review in the journal Trends in Food Science & Technology (2010, Vol. 21, pp 106-113), it is 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: Food Hydrocolloids
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodhyd.2010.03.004
“Rheological, textural and sensory properties of gluten-free bread formulations based on rice and buckwheat flour”
Authors: A. Torbica, M. Hadnadev, T. Dapcevic

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