Saturday, February 23, 2013


Those who eat wheat bread have ever wondered why they prefer it over products from other grains? Probably they might not have any clue and even the wheat scientists were not clear about this puzzle till recently. While consumption of bread from refined wheat flour, called in India as Maida, is predominant world over, its real reason was that traditionally for centuries only good raising and crust can be obtained during baking of bread only when gluten content is high (after removal of bran and germ). It is only recently there was a craze for whole wheat bread considering that it is rich in bran, fiber and many healthy phytochemicals. Of course bakers had to struggle with right recipe and ingredients to come up with a bread from whole wheat flour that can ensure desirable crumb and crust texture and right color. One of the discoveries which unfolded recently is that the extraordinarily appealing aroma of bread comes from the bran which contains the chemical Ferulic acid. The so called "Hot Bread" shops exploit this aroma to attract customers who can see the bread making process and receive the freshly baked bread right out of the oven! Here is an interesting exposition about Ferulic acid's role in fresh bread aroma. 

"What makes whole wheat bread a lot more appetising and tasty -- it just boils down to controlling the amounts of ferulic acid (FA), a compound found in wheat bran. Devin G. Peterson and colleagues from the University of Minnesota explain that whole wheat flour includes all three layers of the grain - bran, germ and endosperm - while refined flour is mostly endosperm. Wheat flour is also rich in fibre and phytochemicals which lowers cancer, heart, obesity and diabetes risks and is more health giving than its refined white counterpart, the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports. Peterson and team focused on ferulic acid. When they added it to white flour dough, the bread tasted and smelled like wheat bread. Understanding these chemical reactions could help bakers make healthier bread more appetizing, the study suggests, according to a Minnesota statement. Despite wheat bread's benefits, many consumers choose white bread because they prefer its taste and aroma. Peterson wanted to find out how one specific compound prevalent in whole wheat flour impacts its taste and aroma".

This study should not be a basis for bakeries to incorporate chemically extracted Ferulic acid in refined wheat flour to mimic the aroma of whole wheat based bread products. All said and done whole wheat is much more superior to commercially manufactured white flour in terms many desirable nutrients and industry should not be allowed to get away through such nutrition depleting process of making bread through addition of Ferulic acid to flours devoid of useful nutrients. It is a good thing that bakery industry is increasingly realizing  the ground reality about consumer thinking and must strive to satisfy their desire for products which are as nutritious as possible. After all a sizable population in this planet has bread and bakery products as staple foods and their health is closely linked to the nutritive value of these products.  


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