How food manufacturers are making gluten-free products tastier and healthier
Ten years ago, a consumer seeking out gluten-free foods in their grocery store would have been hard pressed to find much. And the few products that did tout the attribute were probably dry, bland, and badly textured—overall, not very appetizing. Whether it's by choice or for specific medical reasons, the number of people gravitating toward a gluten-free diet is rising. In the November issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), senior digital editor Kelly Hensel writes about how manufacturers are responding to the high demand for gluten-free foods that not only taste good but offer nutritional value as well.
The main types of ingredients that formulators turn to include:
- Grains, Flours and Starches: Rice flour, potato flour and teff form the primary structure of gluten-free goods, especially baked goods.
- Hydrocolloids and Proteins: Gums, such as xanthan and cellulose, act as binders to hold the baked goods together. Proteins like egg, soy, dairy, or pulse are important in adding structure.
- Fibers: In addition to adding nutritional value, fibers can offer a great deal of texture refinement at the end of the formulation.
- Fats and Emulsifiers: These help stabilize the product while also adding back mouthfeel.
- Enzymes and Mold Inhibitors: Act as anti-staling ingredients to improve shelf-life.
While a lot of products still rely on tapioca starch, potato starch and rice flour which have less fiber, protein or nutrients, more manufacturers are now using more nutritious ingredients such as flax, quinoa, chia and buckwheat.
Following is a chart that shows the reasons people are eating gluten-free foods.