Rice Offers a Healthier Way to "Batter
Up" By Erin
May 26, 2004
Fillets of fish and chicken, whole mushrooms and onions--all
seem more savory after being dipped in a seasoned flour mixture and then fried
to a golden brown. However, many consumers can only dream of enjoying such
fried foods, because these treats contain high levels of fat and may pose other
health risks. But this could soon change, as scientists with the
Agricultural Research Service have found
a healthier batter to coat these favorite foods.
ARS chemist Fred F. Shih and colleagues examined a variety of
batters--made with long-grain rice, waxy rice, wheat or corn--to see which
flour type would take up the least amount of oil. Their findings? Batters made
with long-grain rice flour and small amounts of other specially modified rice
ingredients absorbed about 55 percent less oil than the traditional wheat
batter. Rice flour has unique properties that resist oil absorption.
The researchers, located in the
Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit of the ARS
Southern Regional Research
Center in New Orleans, La., were also interested in how much acrylamide the
batters produced during frying. A chemical found in many cooked foods,
acrylamide forms in the presence of high temperatures and specific interactions
between protein components and carbohydrates.
While there are no guidelines yet on safe levels of acrylamide
in foods, excessive levels of the chemical may be a cause of concern, according
Shih found that the batter formulated with long-grain rice flour
and other modified rice ingredients again rated best, containing 60 percent
less acrylamide than the wheat-based one. But acrylamide levels for all the
researched batters were still relatively low when compared to levels in other
fried foods, like potato chips.
In addition to being low in acrylamide and oil uptake, the new
100-percent rice batter is also gluten-free.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.