NEWS

ENZYME-ENRICHED BREAD ‘AS GOOD AS BLUEBERRIES’ AT IMPROVING BLOOD CIRCULATION

Clinical trial shows bread could boost your vascular function

  • 23
  • NOV
  • 2020

A small addition during bread making unlocks the potential of wholegrain bread, putting it on a par with other ‘superfoods’, according to researchers. 

During a clinical trial, participants eating the improved bread saw the same short-term boost to their vascular function as gained from eating blueberries.  

The team from Rothamsted and the University of Reading added an enzyme commonly used by the drinks industry to the bread, raising levels of micronutrient ferulic acid by more than five times. 

Similar, circulatory-improving compounds are found in foods such as cocoa, green tea, and red wine, but the authors hope improving an everyday food such as bread, will benefit health more widely. 

Jeremy Spencer, Professor of Molecular Nutrition at the University of Reading who led the study said: 

“While there is a growing recognition that foods like berries or green tea have a positive benefit for human health due to the presence of polyphenols, we recognise that there are barriers for much of the population to consume amounts of these that may have a significant impact on their health.  

“Our study shows that there are ways that we can subtly change the characteristics of staple foods such as bread to increase the positive micronutrients found in them.” 

Whilst all wholegrain and high fibre breads contain similar contents of phenolic compounds to those present in blueberries and other superfoods, the chemicals are tightly bound to fibre in the bread – meaning we don’t typically get the health benefits from consuming them unless eaten regularly over the long term. 

This may be one of the reasons why we see greater benefits from regular wholegrain consumption, as these compounds are slowly released in the gut, according to Rothamsted’s Dr Alison Lovegrove. 

She said: “Processing with an enzyme to release the ferulic acid prior to breadmaking had changed that, effectively unlocking the goodness of the wholegrain and making it immediately available. The effect on blood flow seen in the study are really clear and show that with a small addition, bread can be as good as blueberries for your health.”

 

The enzyme used is already accepted for food use and used by commercial brewers as part of a mixture of enzymes that break down the fibre during malting – so the hope is bakers could adopt the additional ingredient soon. 

And although this research is focused on delivering benefits in bread, the researchers say the technology could also be applied to various snack foods and energy bars, which often contain wheat bran or wholemeal.

Nineteen healthy young men were selected to take part in the clinical trial and were randomly placed in a group with one group receiving the enriched bread. These participants showed higher levels of ferulic acid and a significant short-term boost in blood flow associated with cardiovascular health. 

In order to account for differences between higher and lower fibre breads, two control groups were tested as well, with one group receiving white bread low in fibre, and one group receiving a higher fibre bread which had a non-active version of the enzyme. 

Published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, the results demonstrate that the free ferulic acid that was in the treated bread is most likely to have accounted for an increase in blood flow. 

About Rothamsted Research
Rothamsted Research is the longest-running agricultural research institute in the world. We work from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management. Our founders, in 1843, were the pioneers of modern agriculture, and we are known for our imaginative science and our collaborative influence on fresh thinking and farming practices.
Through independent science and innovation, we make significant contributions to improving agri-food systems in the UK and internationally. In terms of the institute’s economic contribution, the cumulative impact of our work in the UK was calculated to exceed £3000 million a year in 20151. Our strength lies in our systems approach, which combines science and strategic research, interdisciplinary teams and partnerships.
Rothamsted is also home to three unique resources. These National Capabilities are open to researchers from all over the world: The Long-Term Experiments, Rothamsted Insect Survey and the North Wyke Farm Platform.
We are strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with additional support from other national and international funding streams, and from industry. We are also supported by the Lawes Agricultural Trust (LAT).
For more information, visit https://www.rothamsted.ac.uk/; Twitter @Rothamsted
1Rothamsted Research and the Value of Excellence: A synthesis of the available evidence, by Séan Rickard (Oct 2015)

About BBSRC
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £469 million in world-class bioscience in 2016-17. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
More information about BBSRC, our science and our impact.
More information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes

About LAT
The Lawes Agricultural Trust, established in 1889 by Sir John Bennet Lawes, supports Rothamsted Research’s national and international agricultural science through the provision of land, facilities and funding. LAT, a charitable trust, owns the estates at Harpenden and Broom's Barn, including many of the buildings used by Rothamsted Research. LAT provides an annual research grant to the Director, accommodation for nearly 200 people, and support for fellowships for young scientists from developing countries. LAT also makes capital grants to help modernise facilities at Rothamsted, or invests in new buildings.