The gluten-free diet is becoming one of today’s hottest nutritional trends. Celebrities and athletes are making the diet so popular, even junk food companies are starting to market gluten-free products. Gluten-free foods can have just as many calories as other foods, but new research shows that green banana flour could be a better-tasting, healthier diet alternative for people with celiac disease.
Gluten and celiac disease
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. About one percent of the population has celiac disease, a digestive disorder triggered by gluten that prevents the small intestine from absorbing essential nutrients. Symptoms of celiac disease include nausea, diarrhea and acid reflux. The disease can cause depression and even stunt growth in children.
Giving up foods with gluten is the only way to relieve the symptoms of celiac disease. Finding gluten-free products can be challenging and the gluten-free options often lack the qualities that make other foods palatable, pasta in particular. Rice, corn or quinoa flour pastas are safe, but they’re either too firm or too mushy compared with regular pasta—and more expensive.
Green banana pasta
Gluten free pasta can be rather disappointing, but food scientists in Brazil have developed pasta made from green banana flour that people with celiac disease gave an average rating of six on a scale of nine. People without the condition rated the green banana flour pasta nearly as high in flavor and texture as whole grain pasta.
The nutritional value of the green banana pasta was as good or better than the whole wheat version and had fewer calories and less fat per serving. Better yet, it can be used for other products for celiac patients like bread, biscuits and pizza dough.
Gluten free calories
The new gluten-free food trend is a boon for people with celiac disease because more choices are available. But a gluten-free diet may not be the healthiest choice people without the condition.
Even though Miley Cyrus and other celebrities are saying a gluten-free diet has helped them lose weight, it’s not a weight-loss program. A look at food labels will show that gluten-free products often contain just as many calories as the foods they replace. A gram of sorghum, corn or rice flour has just as many calories as a gram of wheat flour.
Going gluten-free can also be risky without being aware that the diet lacks essential nutrients such as fiber. But gluten-free eating can produce health benefits for the average person simply by replacing some grains and other refined carbohydrates with fruit and vegetables.