How Fortification is Changing Pasta and Noodles

Pasta and noodles are analysed. Fortification of Pasta and Noodles.
Copyright: azurita

Pasta which is not gluten-free has always relied on using semolina (flour) from a particular hard wheat variety called durum. In recent years other grains have been introduced to change the functional, textural and health benefits of this highly popular product where wheat has been the main component. A similar product, wheat noodles have also benefitted from similar levels of intervention in product development. In this article we look at supplemented pasta where other proteins in the form of flour has been added. We will not consider gluten-free pasta or pasta made with other protein flours.

Pasta is very cheap to produce and has exceptional shelf-life. It also tastes exceptional and is extremely popular with young and old. Over a number of years, product developers and scientists have looked for new ways to improve the nutritional benefits of traditional pasta because of its popularity. In doing so, the nutritional and functional properties of the pastas produced have altered but not always in the manner that the producers would like.

Part of the driving force for considering other types of pasta and noodles is the ever rising prevalence of coeliac disease where gluten is such a notorious irritant of the gastrointestinal tract. Gluten-free pasta has developed to meet primarily that particular requirement. In these products, the pasta has to be gluten-free to avoid triggering an inflammatory episode. Pasta has also been a food directed at athletes as well as the nutritionally conscious and for those living with diabetes, being overweight and to supplement the diets in developing countries.

Pasta also cooks easily requiring just a pan of salted boiling water for its preparation. A number of sauces can be used as well as filled pastas. We have on this web-site introduced various recipes that exploit the vast range of pasta foods that can be created.

Another reason for looking for alternative grains is because durum wheat is increasingly expensive compared to other common wheat varieties such as (Triticum aestivum). This availability is beginning to cause significant price increases. Durum wheat itself is only 5% of the total wheat production in the world so other materials that can eke out the supply of durum wheat are welcome.

The idea of supplementation and fortification is not new. Vitamins and mineral as as well as dietary fibre have been added at various phases in the history of product development to improve the nutritional properties of foods. The addition of fibre for example to all sorts of baked goods such as bread has long been a standard of nutritional fortification so why not pasta in terms of this concept.

Durum wheat is ideal for pasta but it does not have a high protein quality in terms of its amino acid content. It is seriously deficient in the amino-acid, lysine. Given pasta is a staple in many parts of the world, the protein quality of pasta has been improved too by the addition of proteins containing lysine. Many of them are described below in the list.

A variety of new ingredients for pasta fortification have been tried and tested:

  • rapeseed (Matsuo et al., 1972)
  • fish protein concentrate (Matsuo et al., 1972)
  • pea protein concentrate (Nielsen et al., 1980)
  • edible legume flour from  navy bean, pinto bean, and lentil (Bahnassey et al., 1986).
  • hydroxymethylcellulose (Majzoobi et al., 2011)
  • pea flour (Zhao et al., 2005)
  • lupin flour (Morad et al., 1980)
  • sweet potato with dietary fibre (Krishnan et al., 2012)

Noodles too have been produced using a wide range of flours such as fish protein concentrate (Kwee et al., 1969; Woo & Erdman, 1971).

Functional Properties of Pasta

The increasing addition of dietary fibre usually increases both the firmness and toughness of pasta when any type of texture profile analysis is conducted.

Macaroni was manufactured from wheat flour blended with between 2 and 6% w/w lupin and defatted soybean flour (Morad et al., 1980). Increasing the amount of either flour increased the volume and weight of the macaroni. Soybean flour addition decreased the cooking quality whereas the reverse was true with lupin flour.

Lupin flour has a natural amber-orange colour which contributed to the overall colour of the macaroni. Soybean flour produced an undesirable grey colour to the pasta (Morad et al., 1980).

The cooking quality of pea-fortified spaghetti compares similarly to soy-fortified pasta in studies on fortification from the  60s and 70s (Paulsen, 1961; Holliger, 1963; Kwee et al.,  1969).

A couple of good examples of this are seen when sweet potato dietary fibre is added from 10 to 20% levels of fortification (Krishnan et al., 2012).

A study by Shreenithee & Prabhasankar (2013) showed that the optimum quantity of yellow pea flour that could be substituted was 20% when it came to favouravble sensory attributes as well as texture, yellow colour, reduction in glucose release and increased protein digestability.

The Role of Proteins: Interactions

One study sought to understand the protein interactions occurring between introduced proteins and wheat protein. Wheat semolina was clended with 10%, 15%, 25% or 50% of defatted soy flour (DSF) or toasted soy flour (TSF). Size exclusion-high-performance liquid chromatography (SE-HPLC) was needed to analyse the protein content.

Proteins from other sources interact with the gluten and other wheat proteins. Globulin proteins from soy form high molecular weight polymers with wheat proteins. The finding was  sodium dodecyl sulphate-unextractable components were significantly higher, by up to 49% unextractable polymeric proteins (UPP) than that of spaghetti made of semolina (24.6% UPP). There was a decrease in disulphide bonding (S-S bonds) and a corresponding increase in free -SH groups in the DSF-semolina spaghetti (Lamacchia et al., 2009).

Nutritional Value

Early studies on pastas have been assessed in terms of how well they improve the nutritional profile of the fortified product. The addition of legume flour has long been tested and is now a conventional process.

The addition of dietary fibre is whatever has usually been shown to improve the dietary value of pasta and noodles. The intention is to improve the quality of the food for diabetic and obese people. The addition of fibre increases the level of high-resistant starch for example as well as raising the starch digestability rating as was shown for the addition of sweet potato (Krishnan et al., 2012).

Sensory Perception

Rice noodles fortified with up to 30% soy flour are ‘acceptable’ to Thai children (Siegel et al., 1975).


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