The traditional Asian flatbread, chapathi, can have higher protein and fiber content if made using food-grade distillers grains.
SDSU food scientist Padu Krishnan said distillers dried grains with solubles, or DDGS, can help improve human nutrition worldwide.
DDGS is produced as a co-product when processing corn into ethanol.
Krishnan and his student, Sowmya Arra, worked with Kurt Rosentrater of the USDA Agricultural Research Service's North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory on the project.
They found that using DDGS to make up 10 percent of the dough in chapathi, an Asian whole wheat unleavened bread eaten in South Asia and East Africa, boosted the fiber from 2.9 percent to 7.8 percent. Using 20 percent DDGS in the dough increased the fiber to 10.3 percent.
Similarly, protein increased from 10.5 to 12.9 percent when they used DDGS to make up 10 percent of the dough in chapathi. Using 20 percent DDGS increased the protein to 15.3 percent.
Krishnan insisted DDGS is ideal for including in human diets because it is rich in dietary fiber, at 40 percent, and also in protein, at 36.8 percent.
The results from the South Dakota State lab studies, Krishnan said, were enough to catch the attention of the food industry because it suggests a strategy to bolster diets with a bland but highly nutritious ingredient that won't interfere with the taste of foods.
Adding DDGS to the dough did make chapathies significantly darker, particularly at the 20 percent substitution, Krishnan noted.
Krishnan said: "However, the use of South Dakota white wheats such as 'Alice' and 'Wendy' in the formulation gives us some leeway when color is the aesthetic criterion."
The shelf life of chapathies at room temperature was one week without preservatives and refrigeration, he added.