Texturizers, like starches and flour, can be created out of vegetables and plants that are healthier diet alternatives. Some minimally processed texturizer alternatives can contribute to the healthiness of some complex carbohydrate foods by providing energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all nutrients and fuel that the body needs. Knowing the different types of texturants and their importance to your diet will help you understand that you can shift to a healthy diet alternative rather than eliminating texturizers.
What is Starch?
Starch is a complex carbohydrate that consists of long chains of glucose linked together. Starch is usually generated in plants by converting sunlight into chemical energy, resulting in glucose. Foods that contain a high level of starch are:
- Lima beans
- Dried beans
- Grains like oats, barley, and rice.
Starch is turned into the powder we use for cooking by crushing or grinding the tubers or seeds that contain the starch, and then the pulp is mixed with water. The resulting paste is dried, resulting in a powdery substance used for cooking and baking.
Starches can be used as food texturizers and thickening agents to bring food products to the appropriate chewiness, crunchiness, or creaminess expected when eating that food product. Adding starch to enhance the texture becomes especially important when fat, sugar, or calories are removed from a food product or beverage.
What is Flour?
Flour is a powder made by grinding sources of starch like raw grains, roots, beans, nuts, or seeds. Because it contains starch, flour can also be used as a thickening agent and food texturant. However, you would use flour primarily to provide the structure in baked goods. The proteins in flour interact with each other when mixed with water, forming an elastic gluten framework that is allowed to stretch when rising.
The Difference Between Starch and Flour
Starch generally is a powder that does not add taste or an aroma to the food product, while flour does. Starch is excellent for thickening sauces, gravies, and soups and gives baked goods a light and fluffy consistency. Flour is best used to provide the structure for breads, pastries, pasta, and pancakes.
The Importance of Starches and Flours in Your Diet
Because starch contains complex carbohydrates in the form of glucose, this provides the human body with slow-releasing energy and assists in maintaining blood glucose levels. All flours, some types more than others, contain starches, which also provide our bodies with energy.
If you use flour made of beans and nuts, like the lupin bean or almonds, there will be higher levels of protein and low levels of starch, while rice and tapioca flour have high levels of starch with low levels of proteins. Depending on what the flour consists of, you can also get the fiber, vitamin, and mineral value of those food sources.
For example, when flour is made from whole grains or grains containing all three parts, the flour has the bran and germ, packed with fiber, B vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E, along with starch. However, if the flour includes only refined grains that contain just the endosperm, the flour only has starch without all those other nutrients.
Healthy Diet Alternatives Can Come in the Form of Texturizers
Starches and flour are texturizers that bring their own strengths to the eating experience. While starches make gravies, sauces, and soups more silky, creamy, or thick, flour provides the appropriate chewy or crunchy texture to delights made of dough. And because starches and flour can be made from minimally processed ingredients like tapioca, corn, rice, peas, and beans, you can include these forms of texturizers into a healthier lifestyle.