- Researchers who developed a gluten-free flour alternative made from sweet potatoes say the ingredient is healthier than other flours and extracts more nutritional benefits, according to new findings published by the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) Food Science & Technology department.
- Using various drying temperatures and grinding processes, the researchers tested the flour’s application in baked goods, according to an ACS statement. They found that when baked into a bread, the alternative ingredient contained a higher capacity of antioxidants then store-bought sweet potato flour and wheat flour.
- Food scientists continue to develop new options for gluten-free consumers to enjoy baked goods without traditional wheat flour and harness the nutritional aspects of the startchy vegetable.
The gluten-free products market is projected to reach $7.5 billion by 2027, according to Allied Market Research. Foods made gluten-free were once hard to find but now abound and are made with everything from almonds to rice and chickpeas.
While many gluten-free flours are on the market now, baked goods that don’t contain a structural protein such as gluten are unsatisfying to some consumers. Some common problems observed with these flours — especially rice-based ones — include tender, crumbly textures and dryness.
In creating a sweet potato-based flour alternative, researchers say home cooks and the packaged food industry will have a new gluten-free option that has a variety of applications, taste profiles and a worthy texture.
But before sweet potato flour could be used as an ingredient in goods sold at stores, ACS researchers said the best processing techniques for the flour must be established. Through their testing process, researchers found that grinding the sweet potatoes once made the product ideal for fermented products, such as bread, while grinding the root vegetables twice produced a thickening agent that could be used for sauces.
Gluten-free brands have debuted better-for-you options, such as buckwheat and quinoa flour, that contain higher protein, fiber and micronutrients than wheat flour. Along with antioxidants, the sweet potato’s nutritional profile boasts high amounts of vitamins A and C, along with fibers beneficial for gut health.
New options like the sweet potato flour described by ACS, if present in baked goods, could give consumers the option for another healthier alternative that doesn’t just avoid the protein found in wheat but takes advantage of the taste and health properties of the vegetable.