A study by researchers at the University of Brazil and published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reveals that a new gluten-free pasta, derived from the flour of green bananas is a healthier, delicious substitute compared to other pastas for celiac disease patients.

Individuals with celiac disease cannot eat a normal diet because of their intolerance to gluten, which is found in many common foods, such as grains and wheat. The new pasta has been tested by tasters and most have agreed that it is better tasting than normal pastas. The green-banana pasta also is lower in cost and in fat content.

Renata Puppin Zandonadi, PhD, from the Department of Nutrition at the University of Brazil commented:

“There was no significant difference between the modified pasta and standard samples in terms of appearance, aroma, flavor, and overall quality. Green bananas are considered a sub-product of low commercial value with little industrial use. For banana growers and pasta product makers, there is the possibility of diversifying and expanding their market.”

For their study, the authors looked at the differences between the pasta made from the green banana flour, water, gums, and eggs whites, and the pasta made from whole wheat flour and whole eggs.

Using the green banana flour, egg whites, water, and gums instead of whole wheat flour and whole eggs gave the pasta more protein and less fat content. This is significant because when gluten is taken out of products, most of the time, so are some of the proteins which are parts of typical pasta products. The gums and egg whites produced a pasta which was more firm, elastic, moist, and less sticky than most gluten-free pasta products.

The researchers found a 98% decrease in fat composition, which is great news for gluten-free dieters, considering most gluten-free products make up for the lack of gluten with high lipid composition.

During the study, 25 people with celiac disease, and 50 without tested the different kinds of pasta. Both groups agreed that the one made with green-banana flour was better tasting, had a better smell, feel, and was altogether a better product. This finding reveals that not only people with celiac disease will be interested in pasta made with green-banana flour.

The researchers note that the pasta made with green-banana flour could help regulate problems with intestinal regularity, fermentation by intestinal bacteria, cholesterol, and glycemic indexes, because it contains a large amount of resistant starch.

Dr. Zandonadi concludes:

“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. Patients will benefit from ingesting a product with a better nutritional profile made from an ingredient that is produced and consumed throughout the world.”

Written by Christine Kearney