Barley by-products boost pasta’s functional claims

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Pasta made from barley by-products could provide functional benefits compared to pasta made with semolina.
Pasta made from barley by-products could provide functional benefits compared to pasta made with semolina.
A new genre of pasta made with barley by-products, may mean that spaghetti can soon claim it is a ‘good source of dietary fibre’ and ‘may reduce the risk of heart disease’, say researchers.

A team of European scientists, led by Dr Vito Verardo from the University of Bologna, have said that the newly developed ‘super-spaghetti’ containing barley could be one of the next products to enter the growing functional food market – as a good source of fibre, antioxidants and vitamin E.

Writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​, the research team reported that barley by-products obtained by air classification were used to produce ‘functional’ spaghetti, which was then compared to different commercial whole semolina samples. The team found that total, insoluble, and soluble fibre, and beta-glucan contents of the barley spaghetti were higher in the new ‘functional’ spaghetti than in commercial samples.

“Furthermore, it was proved that barley spaghetti reached the FDA requirements, which could allow these pastas to deserve the health claims ‘good source of dietary fibre’ and ‘may reduce the risk of heart disease’,”​ said Veraedo and his team.

Barley interest

In many Western countries, barley is mainly used for animal feed and malting, however there is renewed interest in barley in foods after research suggested its health benefits – including its potential to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease through lowering cholesterol, and improving glucose tolerance.

The bioactive ingredient believed to give barley its health benefits is beta-glucan, a type of soluble fibre. Of all cereal grains, oats and barley contain the highest level of beta-glucan, with barley containing the highest levels at up to 11%.

The authors noted that barley is already added to some bakery products.

Study details

To determine whether barley could also be used in pasta to provide fibre and antioxidants such as flavan-3-ols, Verardo and his team of researchers developed barley flour that contains the most nutritious part of the grain – the coarse fraction – and used it to make pasta.

They found that barley flour, made up of barley by-products, provided more fibre and higher antioxidant activity than traditional semolina-based spaghettis, but noted that whilst adding gluten to the barley flour improved the cooking quality of the pasta it also lowered antioxidant activity.

However the authors also said that the results of their study “highlight the separation of the commercial spaghetti and barley spaghetti ... on the basis of the phenolic profile.”

“Phenolic acids content was higher in the commercial samples, whereas flavan-3-ols (that were not detected in commercial samples) were the phenolic compounds present in a higher concentration in barley spaghetti samples ... Because of that, the barley coarse fraction has demonstrated to be an useful ingredient to enrich spaghetti in flavan-3-ols,” ​they said.

Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Volume 59, Issue 17, Pages 9127–9134, doi: 10.1021/jf202804v
“Development of Functional Spaghetti Enriched in Bioactive Compounds Using Barley Coarse Fraction Obtained by Air Classification”
Authors: V. Verardo, A.M. Gomez-Caravaca, M.C. Messia, E. Marconi, M.F. Caboni

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