Starches have played a role in efforts to improve the taste and texture of gluten-free foods. They may need some assistance in improving the nutritional qualities, which may serve as a way to differentiate gluten-free offerings. Also, one type of starch — resistant starch — may provide fiber and digestion benefits to gluten-free products.

Shelley Case, a registered dietitian and author of “Gluten-free Diet, A Comprehensive Resource Guide,” spoke about the gluten-free market Oct. 2, 2011, at a Grain Foods Foundation event in Schaumburg, IL. She said about 3 million Americans have celiac disease and must avoid gluten in their diets while another 18 million may be gluten-intolerant and thus would benefit from gluten-free products.

Ms. Case said gluten-containing ingredients, including enriched flour and whole wheat flour, may have more nutrients, such as iron and B vitamins, than some gluten-free ingredients.

Ibrahim Abbas, senior R&D manager for Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, CO, said PenFibe RS, a new resistant starch, may add nutrients into gluten-free products.

“The gluten-free products today are suffering from a poor nutrition profile,” he said. “Most of the products use flours that are not high in fiber, vitamins, minerals and protein. PenFibe RS, a non-allergenic potato-based resistant starch, is an excellent product for introducing dietary fiber to gluten-free systems, specifically Penford’s PenTech GF system.

“It can replace a portion of the flour and sugar in many products without adversely affecting the texture, especially in gluten-free baked goods.”

PenFibe RS has a digestive tolerance when used at high doses, clean flavor and no gritty texture, Dr. Abbas said.

Bryan Scherer, director of R&D for Penford, said potato-based resistant starch works in non-allergenic markets such as the gluten-free markets. Low water-holding capacity means it may be incorporated into products without major reformulation.

“For instance, PenFibe RS’ viscosity contribution to food systems is very minimal even at elevated starch usage levels up to or exceeding 20% in bakery products,” he said. “Because it is potato-based, it is bland and white so it does not interfere with any flavor or color sensitive food applications.”

Jennifer Williams, a scientist for Penford Food Ingred-ients, will give a gluten-free presentation March 5 in Chic-ago at the American Society of Baking’s BakingTech event.

National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, NJ, at BakingTech showcased its capabilities to provide gluten-free baked goods that mimic the taste, texture and nutritional value of wheat-containing counterparts, said Patrick O’Brien, marketing manager, bakery.

Homecraft Create GF 10 and Homecraft Craft Create GF 20 are specialty flour systems from National Starch Food Innovation that are derived from rice and tapioca and have functionality similar to that of wheat flour.

“Utilizing our portfolio of gluten-free bulk flour systems, texturizers and nutritional ingredients, our bakery applications team has developed a library of gluten-free formulations with similar nutritional declarations to their wheat-containing counterparts,” Mr. O’Brien said. “So whether looking to reduce sugar or fat in a current gluten-free formula or developing products with benefits in the areas of weight, digestive, bone, joint, glycemic or immune health, Corn Products/Natural Starch have the product portfolio and know-how to help you get there.”

Natural Starch Food Innovation is a business of Corn Products International, Westchester, IL. For the gluten-free market, Corn Products International offers Expandex modified tapioca starch. It has water-binding and freeze-thaw properties and a clean flavor, according to Corn Products International.

National Starch Food Innovation offers Hi-maize resistant starch that has been shown to enhance the nutritional value of gluten-free products, said Rhonda Witwer, senior business development manager, nutrition.

“It is particularly suited to bakery because it easily and invisibly replaces flour in baked goods while maintaining the taste and texture that consumers prefer,” she said. “Hi-maize is a natural, insoluble dietary fiber that has been shown to be particularly important for promoting digestive health.”

Adding resistant starch to the diet promotes regularity, reduces harmful ammonia and phenolic compounds and helps to restore intestinal balance and health, she said.

Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine, IA, has several starches that work in gluten-free formulations. Instant Pure-Cote B792 instant modified starches improve texture qualities. Inscosity B656 instant modified starches increase batter viscosity, aid in moisture retention and provide freeze-thaw stability. Pure-Dent B700 unmodified corn starches contribute bulk and maintain a clean flavor profile.

“We have been working on numerous gluten-free applications, including yeast breads, cakes and cinnamon rolls,” said Kelly Belknap, applications scientist. “We have a system of starches we recommend to provide structure and stabilization.”

She added, “To improve the nutritional profile, we recommend using TruBran corn bran to boost fiber levels. TruBran is insoluble fiber, not a starch, but it can easily be incorporated into gluten-free applications.”

American Key Food Products, Closter, NJ, offers King Lion premium cassava flour that mimics the structure, texture and taste of numerous wheat-based products with a single ingredient, which eliminates the need for complex formulations of flours, starches and hydrocolloids.

According to AKFP, 100 g of cassava flour includes 0.5 g of fat, 7 g of dietary fiber, 1 g of sugar and 1 g of protein. Every 100 g has 10% of the Daily Value of vitamin C and calcium and 8% of the Daily Value of iron.