CHICAGO—The market for gluten-free foods with functional properties is growing immensely across virtually all food categories on a global level. Sales in the gluten-free food and beverage market were estimated to reach $10.5 billion in 2013, up 44% from 2011.
Consumer perception that gluten-free foods and beverages are healthier than their gluten-containing counterparts is a major driver for the market, as interest expands across both gluten-sensitive and health-conscious consumers.
For food product developers, the need to replace wheat proteins, fibers, and minerals is very important in order to provide a better selection and more nutritious food for consumers that belong to this segment of the population. At the same time, the use of byproducts of the food processing industry as a source of functional ingredients, such as antioxidants, phenols, fibers and proteins is on the rise, which supports global sustainability.
Food scientists from University of Novi Sad in Serbia and Guelph Food Research Centre in Canada found that hemp flour, a byproduct of cold-pressed hemp oil, in combination with decaffeinated green tea leaves could be used to develop a gluten-free snack cracker with functional properties, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Science.
Hemp flour, as a byproduct of cold-pressing oil process, is rich in proteins, fibers, phytochemicals, minerals, omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, which makes it a very valuable ingredient to use for food production. In terms of amino acid composition, hempseed proteins are comparable to the egg white and soy protein. Green tea leaves contain compounds that have been shown to have health benefits including cancer prevention of many types as well as decreasing LDL cholesterol levels.
The study’s findings, where hemp flour and decaffeinated green tea leaves were incorporated into crackers, suggest that consumers may benefit from consuming these gluten-free crackers with superior nutritional qualities in terms of high protein, crude fibers, minerals and essential fatty acids content and antioxidant properties.
The growth of gluten-free foods has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate labeling for gluten-free products. The FDA chose the term "gluten-free" for labeling of food to aid the three million Americans who are victims of celiac disease. To delve further into gluten-free formulating for a variety of food products, see “Gluten-Free Growth: Rethinking Reformulation,” and “The Joy of Gluten-Free Baking.”