Unripe plantain is a natural source of resistant starch that helps to reduce blood glucose levels, so it is considered an excellent ingredient for food fortification. Therefore, researchers from the Center of Development of Biotic Products (CEPROBI) of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) created a type of flour made from this fruit to apply in products such as biscuits, spaghetti, bread and snacks that are beneficial to health.
It has been observed that unripe plantain contains antioxidant compounds that help prevent diseases and provides vitamins. It generates a slow release of glucose and may help prevent colon cancer and constipation, while lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
“When carbohydrates such as starch are digested, glucose is released, which is very important for the body because it is the main source of energy, but too much can be harmful and trigger overweight, obesity or diabetes,” said Perla Osorio Diaz, PhD in Food Sciences.
She explained that to elaborate this new food product, unripe plantains are milled and dried to obtain the flour, which can be used to create different foods with high nutritional quality.
“We thought about using plantain because Mexico is a major producer, and we can take advantage of producers’ leftovers to create flour.”
“We use this flour to produce foods such as spaghetti, biscuits, bread and snacks. We analyzed if the quality remain after completing the elaboration process. So far, it has been observed that plantain flour does not affect consumer’s acceptance of pasta and snacks, and gives the product a slightly astringent taste, which is nice,” Osorio Diaz said.
For the products’ acceptability analysis, they worked with a panel of volunteers who determined the sensory attributes of the foods.
The color has been the less accepted attribute, because plantain flour darkens the products. However, she said, they are working in improving it. Although, in the case of pasta, which is generally consumed with sauces like tomato that masks the color, acceptance is similar to the traditional one, she reported.
“We not only seek a nutritional contribution, we also care for the quality of the products. It has been attempted to develop gluten-free foods, which is the molecule that provides sponginess to bread or makes pasta not crumbling, but which can develop allergies. This molecule is not present in bananas, and has been a challenge to match the quality characteristics provided by products containing gluten.”
The researcher explained that humans digest foods to use them as energy, nutrients and vitamins. However, many carbohydrates have a part that the human gastrointestinal system cannot digest, but it can enhance the process of digestion and provide other health benefits. These indigestible carbohydrates pass through the intestinal tract maintaining the gut microbiota. By digesting this indigestible part for humans, the gut microbiota generates short-chain fatty acids involved in lowering cholesterol and regulating glucose levels in humans, and prevents colon cancer.
Foods like mashed potatoes release a load of up to 90 percent glucose in the first 20 minutes after being consumed. However, the products made from plantain flour developed at CEPROBI generate a slow release of glucose in two hours.
The research team led by Dr. Luis Arturo Bello Perez is seeking a business partner to commercially produce these products made from banana flour, which production process is being patented.
Source: La Jornada