Wheat starch is a plant-based ingredient used in food and paper industry, which could be considered as a by-product from gluten manufacture. It is a white to off-white powder with a neutral odour and taste, and insoluble in cold water or alcohol. It has an energy value of 4kcal/g (similar to all other carbohydrates).
When used in food, it assists with texture, viscosity, gel formation, adhesion, binding, moisture retention and can be used as a fat substitute. It also works as an emulsifier, stabilizer and a clouding or glazing agent. However, it’s primary use in the food industry is a thickening agent.
It is used in many types of food, e.g. to thicken custards, desserts, sauces and instant foods. It is used in sugar confectionery, bakery and snacks, dairy products (such as cheese), alcoholic drinks, sauces and soups, pastas, prepared foods, and meat and seafood (such as surimi).
Composed of two glucose polymers: amylose and amylopectin. Although it ranges from source to source, starches usually have 20 to 25 percent amylose and 75 to 80 percent amylopectin. Grain starches tend to have a higher amylose content compared to ones from other plants.
Starch is also used in the pharmaceutical industry for a wide variety of reasons, such as an excipient, a tablet and capsule diluent, a tablet and capsule disintegrant, a glidant, or as binder. Disintegrants enable tablets and capsules to break down into smaller fragments (dissolve) so that the drug can be released for absorption. Starch absorbs water rapidly, allowing tablets to disintegrate appropriately.
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