A new genre of pasta made with barley is ready to hit the shelves shortly and consumers could soon see packages of pasta labeled "good source of dietary fiber" and "may reduce the risk of heart disease." Barley is the grain famous for giving beer its characteristic strength and flavor. The report appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Vito Verardo, Ana Maria Gómez-Caravaca and colleagues explain that barley, a grain that is an excellent source of fiber and antioxidants, is gaining interest as an ingredient in so-called "functional foods" — a genre of foods that are supplemented with healthful additives. The functional foods craze began in Japan in the mid-1980s and caught on around the world with health-conscious consumers, creating a fast-growing industry that is expected to reach over $176 billion by 2013. Barley is already added to some bakery products. To determine whether barley could make a new functional spaghetti by providing fiber and antioxidants, the researchers developed a barley flour, that contains the most nutritious part of the grain and used it to make pasta. This flour corresponds to the barley by-products and has been obtained by an healthy separation method such as the air classification.
They found that the barley spaghetti had more fiber and more antioxidant activity than traditional semolina-based spaghettis. Adding gluten to barley flour improved the cooking quality of the pasta, but lowered its antioxidant activity.