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Healthier Cheese Puffs? Scientists Have Found a Way

Could we have another reason to love Cheetos?

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Food scientists have found a way to make puffed snacks puffier, healthier, and eco-friendly, Washington State University reports. Their work has implications for all sorts of starch-based extruded snacks and cereals such as Cheerios or Cap'n Crunch.

The food scientists added dried carrot pomace, the leftover pulp from juicing fruits and vegetables, to cornstarch and found it resulted in puffier snacks. Their final product bears a striking resemblance to White Cheddar Cheetos Puffs. The scientists aren't yet exactly sure why the snacks became puffier, but their results indicate molecular interactions between starch and fiber in the pomace are key. The carrot pomace also added nutritional value to the snacks, in the form of fiber, beta-carotene, and anti-oxidants.

The work presents a sustainable use for pomace, an otherwise wasted byproduct of industrial juicing. With juice consumption on the rise, industries and farmers are finding themselves with more and more pomace on their hands. The best part is, the taste of the veggie-pulp is undetectable.

"If we can find a real use for this, and add something positive to snack foods without affecting the taste or texture, it's a real win-win," says Girish Ganjyal, a WSU/University of Idaho School of Food Science assistant professor and co-author of the study.

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