Electric Pulses Enhance Oat and Barley Dough for Better Flatbread

Jim Crocker
16th April, 2024

Electric Pulses Enhance Oat and Barley Dough for Better Flatbread

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Study conducted at the University of Zagreb found PEF treatment reduces enzyme activity in oat and barley flours
  • PEF treatment increased the concentration of health-promoting components like β-glucans and arabinoxylans in flours
  • Changes in molecular weight of these components suggest potential improvements in the health effects and digestibility of β-glucans
Understanding the effects of modern technology on food processing is crucial for improving the quality and health benefits of bakery products. A recent study[1] conducted by researchers at the University of Zagreb has delved into how pulsed electric field (PEF) treatment can influence the baking potential of oat and barley flours, which are increasingly popular due to their nutritional value. This investigation could lead to advancements in the way we process grains for human consumption, potentially enhancing the health benefits of bread and other baked goods. PEF treatment is a non-thermal method that uses short bursts of high voltage electricity to alter the properties of food. This technology has been previously shown to affect the structural and functional characteristics of oat flour[2], suggesting its potential for modifying flour properties for improved baking. The University of Zagreb's study expands on this by examining how PEF treatment specifically affects enzymes and non-starch polysaccharides like β-glucans, which are known for their health benefits, including cholesterol reduction and blood sugar management[3]. The study found that applying PEF treatment to oat and barley flours at a specific intensity (12 kV/cm for 162 milliseconds) considerably reduced the activity of β-glucanase enzymes by up to 76.5%. These enzymes typically break down β-glucans during processing, which can diminish their health benefits. By inhibiting these enzymes, PEF treatment resulted in a significant increase in the concentration of total β-glucans by 33.5% and water-extractable arabinoxylans by 36-41%. These components contribute to the nutritional profile and health benefits of the final baked products. Furthermore, the molecular weight (Mw) of linear β-d-glucans saw a slight decrease, while the molecular weight of branched arabinoxylans increased. These changes in molecular structure could have implications for the health effects and digestibility of β-glucans. Earlier studies have indicated that the processing of barley can affect the solubility and extractability of β-glucans[3], and the current research suggests that PEF treatment could be a way to control these changes. The microstructure of the flours, as observed through scanning electron microscopy, also underwent changes, particularly in the proteins of barley flour. This could potentially impact the texture and sensory properties of the baked goods. When it comes to the actual bread-making process, blending PEF-treated oat or barley flour with wheat flour improved certain aspects of the dough. The gluten aggregation energy and breakdown viscosity of the dough were enhanced, which can affect the dough's stability and workability. However, there was a trade-off as the specific volume of the bread decreased, which typically indicates a denser bread. The study's findings are significant for the food industry as they show that PEF treatment can be used to enhance the functional properties of oat and barley flours. By preserving the integrity of health-promoting components like β-glucans and arabinoxylans, PEF has the potential to create bakery products with improved nutritional profiles. This could be particularly beneficial for consumers looking for healthier bread options. Incorporating earlier findings, such as the adverse effects of β-glucan on the gluten network and bread hardness[4], and the potential of PEF to modify the thermal and pasting properties of oat flour[2], the study from the University of Zagreb provides a more comprehensive understanding of how PEF treatment can be optimized for bakery applications. It ties together previous research by demonstrating practical applications of PEF in preserving and enhancing the beneficial components of flours used in baking. This research opens the door for further exploration into the optimal conditions for PEF treatment and how it can be integrated into commercial baking processes. With a growing interest in functional foods and the health benefits of cereal grains like oats and barley, advancements in processing techniques like PEF could play a crucial role in meeting consumer demand for healthier baked goods.

NutritionBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Pulsed Electric Field Treatment of Oat and Barley Flour: Influence on Enzymes, Non-starch Polysaccharides, Dough Rheological Properties, and Application in Flat Bread

Published 15th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Understanding the impact of Pulsed Electric Fields treatment on the thermal and pasting properties of raw and thermally processed oat flours.


3) Effect of processing on barley β-glucan content, its molecular weight and extractability.


4) Application of rich in β-glucan flours and preparations in bread baked from frozen dough.

Journal: Food science and technology international = Ciencia y tecnologia de los alimentos internacional, Issue: Vol 26, Issue 1, Jan 2020

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