Researchers have found a way to enhance the health benefits of pizza.
University of Maryland food chemists said on Monday they had found ways to enhance the antioxidant content of whole-grain wheat pizza dough by baking it longer at higher temperatures and giving the dough lots of time to rise.
By enhancing the amount of antioxidants, experts believe the results could lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other ailments.
Liangli Lucy Yu, a food chemistry professor, said the findings arose from broader research into ways to improve health-promoting properties of wheat-based food products.
"The reason that we chose pizza is just because it is a very popular food product, not only in the U.S. but worldwide," researcher Jeffrey Moore added.
"So we thought if we could find ways to improve (its antioxidant) properties, doing this for such a product could have a larger impact on public health," Moore said.
But Moore advises against piling pizza fatty toppings like extra cheese, pepperoni, sausage and ground beef.
"If you're adding back all these other things that have potential negative health consequences, then you're negating anything that you're adding in terms of (health) value," Moore added.
The research was presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago.
The researchers experimented with baking temperatures, baking time and fermentation time -- the time the pizza dough is given to rise.
Antioxidant levels rose by up to 60 percent with longer baking times and up to 82 percent with higher baking temperatures, depending on the type of wheat flour and the antioxidant test used, they said. The precise mechanisms involved are unclear, they said.
Baking time and temperature can be increased together without burning the pizza when done carefully, the researchers said.
They found that longer yeast fermentation times in some cases doubled the dough's antioxidant levels. This probably stemmed from chemical reactions caused by yeasts in the dough that had more time to release the antioxidant components, Moore said.
The study used only whole wheat dough. Most of the antioxidants in wheat are in the bran and endosperm components that are generally removed in refined flour, Moore said. Thus, longer and hotter baking and longer fermentation likely would be less effective in making more healthful pizza with refined flour, he said.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grain organizations, but not by the pizza industry.
-- Diet.com News
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