Going Gluten-Free? Try Green Banana Pasta

The gluten-free food trend is going strong. A quick scan of grocery store shelves' feature gluten alternatives such as brown rice, corn, quinoa, potatoes, and soybeans, but grocers may need to make more room soon—for products made from green bananas.

Researchers at the Department of Nutrition at the University of Brazil have developed gluten-free flour from green bananas—good news for those who can't consume gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

People with the immune disorder Celiac disease suffer damage to their intestinal linings if they consume the wheat protein, but those who are intolerant of gluten choose to eliminate it from their diets as well.

Whether consumers are gluten-free by choice, or need to eliminate the wheat protein from their diet due to celiac disease or gluten intolerance, the news is welcome. Eating gluten-free can be costly, and the researchers believe that processing green bananas (which would normally be waste) would result in an economical option for people.

Green Banana Pasta vs. Whole Wheat Pasta

In a taste test, the Brazilian researchers asked 50 volunteers with Celiac disease and 25 people without the condition to compare whole-wheat pasta (made with whole eggs) to pasta made with green banana flour (made with egg whites). Participants were asked to rate the pasta's flavor, aroma, texture, and overall quality.

The surprising results: Both celiac and non-celiac testers preferred the green banana pasta.

Benefits of Green Banana Flour

Beyond preferred taste, there are health perks to eating pasta made from green banana flour.

Less calories and fat. The green banana pasta contains less calories and fat than whole-wheat pasta. In the Brazilian study, the green banana pasta had 83 calories per 100 grams; the competition had 135 per 100 grams.

More gut-friendly complex carbohydrates. Green banana is a resistant starch that helps support healthy bacteria in the large intestine. Resistant starch also may aid in preventing and/or managing type 2 diabetes.

Similar texture. Green banana flour has an elasticity and firmness that other gluten-free alternatives may lack.

Source of antioxidants. Green banana contains phenolic acids that play a role in eye and heart health.

Shared enjoyment. Because both celiac and non-celiac taste testers in the study preferred the green banana pasta, families no longer have to prepare both gluten-free and wheat pasta dishes—cutting costs (and prep time).

According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 2 million Americans have Celiac disease, and many more choose a gluten-free lifestyle because they have an intolerance to the wheat protein. The only treatment is to avoid gluten altogether.



Pasta made from Banana Flour a Tasty Alternative for Gluten-Free Diets. ScienceDaily.com. Web. June 2012

Going Gluten-Free? Look to Green Banana Pasta! Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Web. 2012

What I Need to Know about Celiac Disease. National Digestive Diseases 
Information Clearinghouse. National Institutes of Health. Web. May 2012