Enriched nutraceuticals in gluten-free, whole-grain rice cookies with alternative sweeteners

 Hameeda Banu Itagi, Kristel June D. Sartagoda, Nitesh Gupta, Vipin Pratap, Priyabrata Roy, Rhowell N. Tiozon Jr., Ahmed Regina, and Nese Sreenivasulu   |  

The rising demand for nutritious foods provides manufacturers an opportunity to diversify their products to cater to specific markets. Whole-grain cookies made from GI-tagged rice landraces, Kalanamak and Chak-hao, offer distinct sensory qualities and are nutritious and rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, fiber, and bioactive compounds. 

Rice (Oryza sativa L.) has been a fundamental part of the human diet for thousands of years and has played a significant role in the green revolution to achieve food security in Asia. However, the milling process removes the outer bran and embryo, which results in white rice grain with a high glycemic index and reduced nutrient content. In contrast, brown rice is an unpolished whole grain that contains more dietary fiber, amino acids, phytosterols, phenolics, and bioactive compounds compared to white rice.  Additionally, pigmented rice varieties, such as red rice, black rice, and purple rice, are even more nutrient-dense than brown rice due to their enriched antioxidant properties.

Kalanamak, which gets its name from the black husk (kala) and salt (namak), is a prominent landrace from Uttar Pradesh. Chak-hao, a black rice accession, is a fragrant variety of sticky rice, which derives its name from its delicious taste. Both of these landraces are widely cultivated in geographical indicator regions.

Our previous research has shown that popped rice made from these landraces retains high levels of phytochemicals and antioxidants, making them not just flavorful, but also nutritious. Due to changes in lifestyle and socioeconomic conditions and increased awareness of their nutritional benefits, pigmented rice, as a stand-alone food product or as an ingredient in food products, has attracted increased attention in recent years.

Therefore, the deployment of geographical indicator (GI)-tagged rice landraces can help in the development of additional rice food products with unique and desirable traits to diversify consumer demands.

A considerable proportion of the world population exhibits intolerance and sensitivity to gluten, which is an integral component of grains belonging to the Triticeae tribe such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats. The development of a gluten-free (GF) diet to cater to people with gluten intolerance and celiac disease has been undertaken by studying alternative starch sources from grain outside of the tribe Triticeae.

Due to the increased prevalence of gluten intolerance and celiac disease, the market for GF foods is projected to reach almost $24 billion by 2027. It is well known that rice is extensively used to make GF foods, but most of these prior studies used refined white sugar and commercial rice flour normally made from polished rice, which is rich in starch and lacks nutrients.

Because of this, GF diets usually lack adequate levels of essential nutrients, including micronutrients and bioactives, which can have a number of negative health implications. To ensure that people receive the best dietary intervention, it is crucial to develop GF food products derived from whole-grain of nutritious rice varieties or landraces and assess the nutritional value of foods that fall within this diet group.

Functional foods and nutraceuticals, that offer benefits beyond meeting caloric requirements, are becoming more and more familiar to consumers. Cookies are a widely consumed snack that is crunchy and sweet, which are either baked or fried.

In general, cookies are handy and have a long shelf life and these are created from a blend of ingredients including flour, sugar, eggs, and fats. Jaggery is a natural sweetener that is popular in India due to its perceived health advantages, wherein the majority of the vitamins and minerals present in sugarcane are retained. Hence substituting white sugar with sweeteners like brown sugar and jaggery in cookies offers extra functionality and health advantages.

Despite vast research on the role of rice in a GF diet, traditional whole-grain Indian rice landraces have not been fully investigated to test its potential to develop GF-free functional foods and cookies. Additionally, little information is known about the physicochemical, functional, and nutritional qualities of landraces when they are added to food matrices.

The goal of the current work was to create formulations of novel, functional, nutraceutical-rich, gluten-free whole grain rice flour for making cookies using two well-known, GI-tagged, aromatic Indian rice landraces (Kalanamak from Uttar Pradesh and Chak-hao from Manipur) and raw sugarcane products (jaggery and brown sugar).

Cookies made as a result were examined for their physical and chemical properties, nutritional content, nutraceuticals, and sensory qualities. The findings of this study will offer useful knowledge for manufacturing GF high-quality convenience snacks from Indian rice landraces that are nutrient-dense and palatable.

The whole grain cookies made from GI-tagged rice landraces, Kalanamak and Chak-hao, offer distinct sensory qualities and are nutritious that are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals, fiber, and bioactive compounds.

The Chak-hao-based cookies retained the highest levels of phytochemicals with greater antioxidant activities and adding jaggery as a sugar alternative exhibited higher levels of Fe and helped to retain higher antioxidant compounds upon baking. These cookies demonstrate good shelf-life stability with aw levels under 0.85.

Although gluten-free formulations spread less than the wheat control, the sensory evaluation suggests that the acceptability of Kalanamak whole grain rice flour and black whole grain rice flour cookies is comparable to refined wheat flour-based cookies.

The rising demand for nutritious foods provides manufacturers an opportunity to diversify their products to cater to specific markets. Future research can explore the development of more gluten-free functional foods using Kalanamak and Chak-hao rice, catering to both local and global demands. Investigating packaging and storage options is also essential for maintaining shelf stability and nutritional quality.

Read the study:
Itagi HB, Sartagoda KJD, Gupta N, Pratap V, Roy P, Tiozon R N, Regina A, & Sreenivasulu N. (2023). Enriched nutraceuticals in gluten-free whole grain rice cookies with alternative sweetenersLWT, 186, 115245.

1 Comment so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Dr. Subhasisa Bal December 21, 2023 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Nice article, more research need in this field.

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