Rice Ingredients Provide Health, Functional Benefits

Rice's popularity as both a food ingredient and as a trendy culinary selection of many restaurant menus is on the rise, serving as the go-to solution for consumers looking for gluten-and allergen-free choices rich in nutrients, according to a new article published in IFT's Food Technology magazine.

CHICAGO—Rice's popularity as both a food ingredient and as a trendy culinary selection of many restaurant menus is on the rise, serving as the go-to solution for consumers looking for gluten-and allergen-free choices rich in nutrients, according to a new article published in IFT's Food Technology magazine.

The National Restaurant Association’s 2014 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast predicts diners will see more rice selections on restaurant menus including black rice and red rice.

Food product designers are using sprouted brown rice to increase protein in bars, powdered shakes, soups, pastas, ready-to-drink beverages, cereals and sweet and savory snacks. Rice starches provide a variety of texture options in both food and beverages, from smooth and creamy to crispy and crunchy.  Rice is also being used to enrich diets with more fiber.

Rice ingredients are also being used to enrich food and beverage products with nutrients, improve textural attributes, replace common food allergens, function in gluten-free formulations, and act as a thickening agent, while providing a cost-effective protein source.

As the gluten-free market continues to grow, rice ingredients can help to restore nutrition sometimes removed with the gluten in gluten-free products. When wheat flour is removed from a bakery product formulation, not only is the gluten gone, so are many vitamins, minerals and protein. This is because wheat flour is typically enriched with vitamins and minerals, in particular iron and folic acid.

Brown rice flour—along with whole grain corn, millet and teff flours—have greater nutritional benefits because of the presence of bran, fiber, minerals and amino acids. However, restoring nutrition is only one challenge facing gluten-free products. No single ingredient can replace gluten in baked goods; most gluten-free flours require the addition of starches and gums to mimic the missing gluten. Food Product Design's Digital Issue, "The Joy of Gluten-Free Baking," discusses new ingredients and processes that helping food product designers develop gluten-free products that resemble their gluten-containing counterparts, with similar texture, mouthfeel and flavor.

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