Flour and a wooden spoon

Starch is a component of flour, a thickening agent in cooking

Victor Fisher/Global.

Making small sheets and cages out of starch particles turns them into super-thickeners that can reduce the calorie content of foods.

Starch is often added to foods such as soups to make them richer and thicker, but in doing so Calorie count and carbohydrate content. now, Pilong Lee At Cornell University in New York and colleagues have found that by arranging starch particles into special shapes, the starch content of foods can be reduced without sacrificing texture.

Starch Particles thicken food because they swell when heated. This means the particles are jammed against each other, leaving less room for the liquid ingredients of the dish to flow freely. The researchers wondered if they could replicate this effect but reduce the amount needed by hollowing out the starch globules. “But you can’t just carve a starchy grain like it’s a pumpkin,” Lee says.

Instead, working with starch particles extracted from amaranth seeds, he and his colleagues devised a way to assemble them into three-dimensional shapes. Mixing them with water and oil. The starch particles arranged themselves around the oil droplets, and then the researchers removed both liquids through a combination of heating and freeze-drying. This left them with only starchy structures, some shaped like cages with hollow centers, others shaped like sheets folded over each other to trap liquids between them.

The team discovered that these starch structures performed so well with thickening agents that they could be used to halve the amount of starch typically needed to thicken foods. .

Fan Zhou Experts at the University of Auckland in New Zealand say the use of these granules is a breakthrough for a new class of hollow starch structures and could make starch a major part of future food production. However, Zhu says chicken starch is expensive and can be difficult to obtain in large quantities, so the new method is a more affordable and abundant starch. Made from corn will be beneficial. “And more study is needed on what happens when you put this type of texture in your mouth,” he says.