Pane blu

Pane bluItalian universities do research to make our daily bread healthier and so it turns out that with different types of cereals and yeasts it is better, but … it will be blue, even if it is only a matter of wheat and yeast.

The research of the universities of Turin and Pisa, published in Nature, looks for the perfect recipe for the bread of the future. The Turin researchers focused on the beneficial properties of different types of cereals and wheat, one of which stood out for being particularly healthy and blue; in Pisa, on the other hand, the study focused on new super yeasts. The combination of the two studies could give new nutritional characteristics and a new colour!

Five different wholemeal flours, obtained from conventional and pigmented soft wheat, spelt and barley peeled were used. Common soft wheat (Aubusson variety) and two naturally coloured types were chosen: one yellow, for its carotenoid content, and one blue, for its anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are among the most important groups of pigments present in plants, present in all red, purple and blue fruits and flowers. Just the blue wheat revealed a higher content of phenolic acids, a type of polyphenols, which have great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumor and help in blood sugar control.

In order to enjoy the nutritional properties of wheat, you need a suitable yeast because there is a difference between what we eat and what we assimilate instead. 139 strains of yeast isolated from cereal-based fermented foods and beverages were studied at the University of Pisa; many of these have demonstrated the ability to produce vitamins and antioxidant compounds and to simplify substances that would otherwise be counterproductive, such as phytic acid, a compound in which whole flours are rich. Phytic acid does not allow the body to assimilate all the mineral salts present in bread but the yeasts can dissolve the bond that unites phytic acid and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc, making them bioavailable again and not wasting them. The results of the studies have selected a dozen strains of yeast that simultaneously increase the antioxidants present, make mineral salts available and guarantee excellent leavening, even better than commercial yeast.

The 2 best-performing strains were identified, which were different for each flour.

The results obtained showed that:

  • leavened bread thanks to almost all strains of yeast have led to an increase in polyphenols;
  • the fermentation by the selected yeasts in the doughs produced with blue flour increased the anthocyanin content even more.

Professor Monica Agnolucci, from the Pisan team, said: “Currently we are witnessing a growing demand for baked goods that have functional characteristics that are beneficial to our health, so studies on yeasts naturally present in traditional doughs are needed, in order to select the strains with the best pro-technological, nutritional and nutraceutical characteristics“.

This study revealed the importance of a specific selection of yeast strains for wholemeal flours obtained from different cereals or cultivars, in order to enhance the pro-technological, nutritional and nutraceutical traits of fermented doughs. In short, it is important to choose the right yeast for each seed since each reaction is unique and varies in taste, properties and nutritional validity.

The research was conducted by Michela Palla, Arianna Grassi, Debora Giordano, Cristina Sgherri, Mike Frank Quartacci, Monica Agnolucci, Manuela Giovannetti for the University of Pisa and Amedeo Reyneri and Blandino Massimo for that of Turin.

Credit: Francesca Brunzo