Spain: Canary banana flour suitable for those with coeliac disease

Scientists from the Canary Institute of Agricultural Research have managed to develop a flour from green Canary bananas. This product can be consumed by diabetics and those suffering from coeliac disease, since they do not have gluten and contain a slow absorption starch. This innovative project was presented last week at the Fi2 Todo Conecta Innovation Forum, which was held at Tenerife's Espacio de las Artes (TEA).

The raw material for this product is unripened bananas, which do not yet meet the quality criteria for marketing. "These are pieces that would normally be discarded, but which have a high nutritional value," explained Institute researcher Ana Piedra. This scientist argued that through this process "it is possible to add value to organic waste, using it as an ingredient to make other food products."

The product's developers said that the flour contains very good levels of magnesium and potassium, which makes it attractive for all types of consumers, especially children and athletes. Moreover, the starch that it contains is absorbed slowly, so it behaves like a fiber; something that, according to the researchers, helps in the reduction of cholesterol levels and is beneficial for the prevention of heart diseases.

The process to obtain this type of flour is not complicated. First of all, the peel is removed. "This is the step that takes the most work, since for now it has to be done manually, because there is no machinery to carry it out," explained Piedra. Next, the fruits are moistened with antioxidant, to prevent them from turning black, and then they are dried to eliminate all the water. The next step is to grind the portions in a crusher and then sieve it. The result is a flour of a color similar to gofio, which researchers say does not smell or taste like bananas.

The use of this flour is recommended especially for the preparation of confectionery. If you want to use it for bread baking, it has to be combined with other flours. "Only 10% of the flour can be replaced with that obtained from bananas," said the researcher.

Those affected by coeliac disease are hopeful about the introduction of this new type of flour into the market. The spokesperson of the Coeliac Disease Association of the province of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Jose Luis Iglesias, said during the product's tasting that he hopes that the price of this flour won't increase once it reaches the market, as has already happened with other gluten-free flours, since its price is up to three times higher than that of conventional flour.

The development of this type of flour can also be beneficial for the tourism sector, since the confectionery made with it could be sold as a typical product of the Archipelago.



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