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Effects on Gluten When Cooking Wheat Allergens in Pasta

  • Date: 2015/03/13
  • American Chemical Society - Michael Bernstein - m_bernstein@acs.org
  • Synopsis : Findings lend new insights that could ultimately help celiac patients and people allergic to wheat.

Main Document

Uncovering the effects of cooking, digestion on gluten and wheat allergens in pasta...

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations. In individuals with Celiac disease (American English: celiac), consumption of gluten causes adverse health issues ranging from abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea and vomiting to migraine headaches and joint pain. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine.

Researchers trying to understand wheat-related health problems have found new clues to how the grain's proteins, including gluten, change when cooked and digested.

They report in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that boiling pasta releases some of its potential allergens, while other proteins persist throughout cooking and digestion.

Their findings lend new insights that could ultimately help celiac patients and people allergic to wheat.

Gianfranco Mamone and colleagues point out that pasta is one of the most popular foods in Europe and the U.S. Most people can eat it without a problem. But for those with wheat allergies or celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction to gluten, cutting the grain out of their diets is necessary to minimize symptoms.

These symptoms can include abdominal pain, diarrhea and - in the long run - damage to the small intestines.

Mamone's team set out to gain a better understanding of what happens to the potentially trouble-making proteins in pasta when it's cooked and consumed.

In the lab, the researchers cooked store-bought pasta and simulated how the body would digest it.

They found that while some gluten proteins persisted throughout the cooking and digestion process, other allergenic non-gluten proteins are lost during boiling as they almost completely leak into the cooking water.

This suggests that for people with particular types of wheat allergies unrelated to celiac disease, eating pasta might cause a weaker reaction than wheat products that are baked, the researchers say.

Their findings also contribute to understanding the chemistry of gluten digestion.

The American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress.

With more than 158,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.

Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

Quick Facts:

  • United Kingdom - In the United Kingdom, only cereals must be labeled; labelling of other products is voluntary.
  • Brazil - By law in Brazil, all food products must display labels clearly indicating whether or not they contain gluten.
  • International - The Codex Alimentarius international standards for food labelling has a standard relating to the labelling of products as "gluten-free". It only applies to foods that would normally contain gluten.
  • Canada - Only one in 133 Canadians experiences adverse symptoms from gluten in celiac disease. Labels for all food products sold in Canada must clearly identify the presence of gluten if it is present at a level greater than 20 parts per million.
  • United States - In the United States, gluten might not be listed on labels, because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has historically classified gluten as GRAS ("generally recognized as safe"). In August 2013, FDA issued a final rule, effective August 2014, to define the term "gluten-free" for voluntary use in the labeling of foods i.e. "presence of gluten in the food must be less than 20 parts per million."



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