Samoan breadfruit variety used for successful new pasta trial

An American university has successfully developed breadfruit pasta, which they hope will be an inexpensive and nutritious gluten-free food source in places like Samoa.

Grand Valley State University and Bread Fruit Institute researchers Carmen Nochera and Diane Ragone released the findings of their research last week, and reported 80 per cent of taste-testers found the pasta acceptable.

The pasta is the first to be made of just breadfruit flour, rather than mixed with wheat flour as with other gluten-free pastas, and uses tapioca starch, psyllium fiber and xantham gum as binding agents, as well as coconut oil.

Nochera and Ragone used the Ma’afala variety of breadfruit, common to Samoa and Tonga. They gave it to 71 “untrained panelists” to try, who rated the product from “dislike extremely” to “like extremely,” and overall 80.3 per cent gave it the thumbs up, the research states.

“This breadfruit pasta is a promising value-added product that could potentially compete with other pasta products on the market.”

While researchers had to then convert the rating scale into a two point scale of like and do not like, “We can report with 95 per cent confidence that the proportion of people who like the breadfruit is somewhere between 71 per cent and 89.5 per cent,” the report states.

Most people (38 per cent) voted they “like very much” the pasta, which was the second highest rating in the scale out of nine options.

The nutritional analysis of the breadfruit pasta shows it is low in total fat at 8.33g per 100g serve, but high in carbohydrates at 73.3g per 100g, while per 100g, standard pasta contains 1.9 grams of fat, 30.9 total carbohydrates (0.6g sugars, 1.8g fiber), and 2.7grams fibre.

The pasta also proved high in dietary fibre, with 100g serves containing 9.3g of fibre, or 13 per cent of an adult’s daily needs.

According to a research paper on fruit-based snack bars, fiber has shown to reduce the rate of degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, the report states.

Going forward, the researchers point to the fact that so far there are no published studies on the glycemic index of products from breadfruit flour, and recommended those studies be undertaken. The GI shows how much food raises blood sugar levels.

Low GI foods are digested and released more slowly for sustained energy release, while high GI foods cause spikes in blood sugar levels followed by crashes in energy levels. High GI diets have been linked to obesity and related chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Cooked breadfruit typically has a low to moderate GI and can prevent hyperinsulinemia, which is an excessive level of insulin compared to glucose in the blood. It is often mistaken for diabetes but is rather a symptom.

Ultimately, the research was done to guide others in developing innovative breadfruit products.

“The data from this project can help guide efforts in developing new products in which breadfruit flour replaces wheat flour,” the report states.

“A recommended first step is to similarly prepare and evaluate breadfruit pasta made from flour processed from other cultivars, such as the widely grown ‘Yellow’ or ‘White’.

“Diversifying the uses of breadfruit in food product development will continue to enhance its utilisation and market potential.”

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