Bread that is consumed to day is based solely on wheat in which gluten is present in abundance for creating and stabilizing during fermentation the right matrix for the raised structure of the product. Though bread is made from white flour or "maida" as it is known in India, by majority of the bakery industry, consumer enlightenment about the nutritional and health advantages of whole wheat flour has compelled many bakeries, especially in the western countries to put out "whole wheat" bread. Technological constraints that posed logistical processing problems, when whole grain flour is used to make bread, do not exist any more with many permitted functional additives helping to maintain the eating quality as seen in white bread. Efforts all over the world by bakery scientists are focused on use of more and more non-wheat flours which are much more nutritious than wheat and consumers with gluten allergy cannot take wheat based breads. One recent development is note worthy where the bakery technologists have been able to substitute almost 60% of wheat with coarse grains like oats, rye and buck wheat with very little change in eating quality. Such developments augur well because of better utilization potential for the minor grains and more nutritional quality inherent in such novel bread products.
"In terms of single grain use in dough and bread from a nutritional and quality characteristic perspective, the team noted that oat and rye hydrated flours showed the best and the worst pasting and gelling characteristics respectively, while Kamut and spelt doughs achieved mechanical and fundamental rheological properties close to those obtained for wheat. "Oat, rye and buckwheat gave stiff (high values for hardness and storage modulus) and less cohesive doughs, which may hinder dough machinability during processing," commented the scientists. They observed that oat, rye and buckwheat gave breads with enhanced nutritional features (high RS, mineral, bioactive component and dietary fibre contents, low eGI and HI) but tough and closed crumb grain and low ratings by consumers. And the researchers concluded that the quality profile the mix of oat, rye, buckwheat and common wheat flours of Blend B (20:20:20:40 w/w/w/w) was the most suitable to make highly nutritious (improved dietary fibre fractions, minerals and antioxidant activity, slower starch hydrolysis), palatable, bread with good shelf life and easy handling during processing".
Arabinoxylan and beta glucan fibers present in grains like oats and rye offer advantages in terms of protecting the gut health of the consumers as they are not normally digested in the small intestine and production of life saving short chain fatty acids in the bowel by friendly microorganisms ensure protection from deadly diseases like cancer, reduce inflammation, stimulate growth of intestinal cells, help to reduce cholesterol and give relief from diabetic stress. It is time for such breads to be promoted massively by the governments through economic incentives to the industry while scientific efforts must continue to improve their quality further.