Microstructure and water distribution of commercial pasta studied by microscopy and 3D magnetic resonance imaging

Thomas Steglich*, Diana Bernin, Magnus Röding, Magnus Nydén, Annelie Moldin, Daniel Topgaard, Maud Langton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Manufacturing pasta is a rather well known process, but it is still challenging to tailor pasta products with new raw materials. In this study, we evaluated the effects of raw materials on the microstructure and water distribution in cooked pasta using 1H magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well as bright field and polarized light microscopy. The MRI parameters initial intensity (I0) and transverse dephasing time (T2*) serve as indicators of the local water concentration and water-macromolecule interactions through chemical exchange, respectively. These parameters were mapped throughout the whole pasta volume with a spatial resolution of 78μm in all three dimensions. MRI was combined with light microscopy to link I0 and T2* to microstructure components such as fiber particles and the extent of starch gelatinization. Four commercial spaghetti samples were analyzed which were made of durum wheat flour, both plain and enriched with wheat fiber, as well as with wholegrain and soft wheat flour. Although all pasta samples showed similar macroscopic water absorption as measured by weight increase, the sample structures differed at the microscopic scale. Compared to durum wheat spaghetti, the presence of fiber particles decreased T2*, while spaghetti enriched with soft wheat flour increased T2*. In addition, light microscopy showed that large fiber particles partly acted as barriers against water migration and protected starch granules from swelling. Smaller wheat fiber particles did not affect local starch swelling. Thus, the combination of light microscopy and MRI is a powerful tool to study the microstructure and water distribution in pasta.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)644-652
Number of pages9
JournalFood Research International
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project is a part of the VINN Excellence Centre SuMo Biomaterials (Supermolecular Biomaterials—Structure dynamics and properties) and the project is financed by Lantmännen Research Foundation (Project number 396 ). Daniel Topgaard is financed by the Swedish Research Council VR (grant numbers 2009-6794 and 2011-4334 ).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Dietary fiber
  • Light microscopy
  • Microstructure
  • MRI
  • Spaghetti
  • T₂*


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