Barley bread could reduce obesity levels, claim USDA scientists

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Whole grain oat or barley breads that offer more antioxidants, fibre and cholesterol lowering components than those found in current whole-wheat breads is one aim of research being carried out in the US that is primarily focused on reducing obesity levels in the US.

Research chemist Wallace Yokoyama and postdoctoral nutritionist Hyunsook Kim, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, have developed, in collaboration with the Californian wheat commission, all-oat and all-barley breads that they claim are more palatable that traditional wholegrain breads.

Yokoyama said it is hoped the results of their project will encourage a move away from white bread in the US, where, he claims, it accounts for 80 per cent of total bread consumption.

Their research is due to be published in the peer reviewed Journal of Applied Chemistry and Agricultural Research​ next month.

In preliminary experiments, Yokoyama, Kim, and their colleagues made experimental all-oat or all-barley breads, as well as whole wheat breads as controls. They used commercially available, plant-derived carbohydrate known as HPMC (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose) as a substitute for gluten.

Yokoyama told that previous studies have suggested that HPMC helps lower cholesterol and that their tests with laboratory hamsters that were fed a high-fat diet and the experimental breads underlined the cholesterol-lowering effects of HPMC.

There is blossoming interest in the health benefits of barley, particularly the role of barley beta glucan in lowering blood cholesterol levels, linked to heart health problems, and its capability to balance blood glucose and insulin response after meals, as well as the association between wholegrains and increased satiety.

Introducing dietary fibre into foods is a challenging task for formulators as the ingredient can affect their sensory characteristics by making them thicker. But Yokoyama claims their barley bread with HPMC scored well with a sensory panel.

When compared to whole wheat breads, 34 untrained panellists preferred barley bread containing five per cent HPMC, and he claims substitution of HPMC for gluten results in breads with reasonable loaf volumes, good texture and better consumer acceptability compared to regular breads.

“These breads have superior nutritional properties that may improve the health of individuals with obesity related metabolic diseases,”​ he added.

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