Whole wheat makeover

Whole wheat pasta is a high-fibre, healthy alternative to traditional white flour pasta, but its texture may be too soft for some people. Now, a University of Guelph researcher is trying to change that by studying how gluten influences texture, so that manufacturers can make whole wheat pasta more palatable.

Jayne Bock, a food science researcher at the University of Guelph, hopes this will help consumers increase their fibre consumption.

“We want consumers to consume more whole-grain products because of the health implications,” she says.

Traditional whole-wheat pasta doesn’t give a firm bite.

“It’s very mushy, and people pick up on that,” Bock says. The texture deters consumers from eating healthier versions of their favourite foods.

Bock studies how gluten – a wheat protein that provides structure and elasticity – behaves in whole wheat. She says understanding that behaviour will help processors achieve a whole-wheat texture that pleases pasta eaters.

Whole wheat pasta exhibits a looser  gluten structure, which doesn’t hold starch granules in place. When these starch granules “leak” into the cooking water, the pasta loses its firmness.

Her research suggests that the pasta drying process can affect the gluten structure, and new methods can produce whole wheat pasta with the white-flour texture consumers prefer. The key is “low-temperature, long-time drying,” which minimizes heat exposure, which can damage the gluten network structure.

“We’re trying to remove texture as one of those barriers to consuming whole wheat pasta,” says Bock. “If we can make the texture between the two products similar, that is one less thing the consumer has to overcome in order to consume that product.”

Bock says her research has far-reaching implications. Manufacturers get a road map for creating more consumer-friendly products, and consumers can eat healthier without sacrificing pleasure.

“Everybody should get more fibre,” says Bock. “If I can help be part of that effort to improve the properties of fibre-containing products, especially whole grains, I’m pleased.”

This research is part of a bigger texture and flavour pasta project in collaboration with industry partner Mondelez International, the University of Milan and U of G. Prof. Lisa Duizer, Department of Food Science, is the principal investigator. Funding was provided by the Mitacs program in conjunction with Mondelez International Mississauga Mill.

Each month, Research Matters presents a daily series of blog posts based on a theme. This month’s theme is “Your Health.” Some of these stories have appeared previously in university publications. They are edited for brevity, clarity and style, and republished with permission here.

Tagged: Health, Technology, Stories

Share: Print

Leave Comments

Blog Posts

Georges Sioui on spiritual ...

Araina Bond | October 24, 2014

Georges E. Sioui studies Aboriginal education, culture and religion at the University of Ottawa. Sioui, who is Huron-Wendat, has recently noticed a resurgence of matricentrist values among young people. read more »
Manipulus florum

From manuscript to search ...

Guest blog by Chris Nighman | October 23, 2014

Long before the advent of the Internet, and well before Gutenberg invented moveable type, medieval intellectuals devised information technologies to take advantage of a growing mass of Big Data repositories known as “manuscripts.” read more »

If you’re happy ...

Cathy Majtenyi | October 22, 2014

Brock University recently launched a series of monthly podcasts covering a wide range of themes. As part of our own package of “Belief” related blog posts, Research Matters is pleased to present this exclusive interview with Brock Associate Professor of Psychology, Michael Busseri. Busseri will join two other colleagues to explore this topic in Brock’s January 2015 podcast, “What gives us a sense of wellbeing?” read more »

Lucid dreaming depends on ...

Trent University Staff | October 21, 2014

New research by Trent University Oshawa Anthropology professor Roger Lohmann and graduate student Shayne Dahl indicates that cultural learning shapes the kind of awareness and control people can experience while dreaming. “Scouring the ethnographic record on dreaming for hints of lucidity under Professor Lohmann’s guidance, I found something surprising: that lucid dreaming is widely thought to have serious consequences,” said Dahl, who completed his M.A. thesis, “Knowing Means Connecting with the Source of Life: Knowledge and Ethics among Blackfoot Traditionalists” at Trent in 2012. (He is now a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto.) “As one of my Blackfoot informants put it, ‘You could die in your dream.’” Lohmann and Dahl’s findings were published in the 2014 collection, Lucid Dreaming: New Perspectives on Consciousness in Sleep. Lucid dreaming – waking consciousness arising during a dream – has been a hot topic of scientific research in recent years. According to Lohmann and Dahl, the common assumption that dreams are products of isolated imaginations has distorted our understanding of lucidity’s variation in form, function, and real-world outcomes. Pop culture portrayals in films such as Avatar and Inception present fantasies where lucid dreaming enables marvelous real-world powers. Many traditional and religious cultural worldviews take the relationship between waking and dream worlds as reality rather than fantasy. Lohmann’s fieldwork in Papua New Guinea among the Asabano people explored how they used dreaming as evidence for and contact with supernatural beings. “Asabano converts often told me that seeing dreams of Jesus or Heaven convinced them that what the missionary told them was true,” said Lohmann. “It struck me that they had to believe their dreams were more than figments of their own imaginations to reach that conclusion, and that I, for example, would not be convinced by the same experience because of my different cultural background.” Similarly, Dahl’s fieldwork in Alberta included encounters with Aboriginal medicine men who practiced lucid dreaming. “Shayne’s field experiences and his search of ethnographic literature brought home to us that lucid dreaming has profound potential for people who think it’s more than just a fantasy. We found that descriptions of lucid dreams are radically different in form, function, and outcome depending on the cultural assumptions of the dreamer,” said Lohmann. Their research revealed evidence that in some cultures, lucid dreaming is unknown, while in others it is a commonly taught skill. In some, lucidity is tacit rather than acknowledged, but people nevertheless believe that they actively undertake goals in their dreams. Lohmann and Dahl found that this implicitly lucid “volitional dreaming” commonly appears in ethnographic accounts of dreaming. In cultures where “generative” theory holds sway, dreaming of something is understood to cause it to happen in the waking world. This leads people to experience lucid dreams as opportunities to create or do magic. By contrast, people who believe dreams are what one sees during “soul travel” use lucid dreams as an opportunity to spiritually visit real places. “Even when we consciously disbelieve our dreams,” Dahl said, “They still affect us at a deeper, emotional level that we can’t easily control with reason.” “All of this shows that cultural dream theories are multiple, that people invoke them in complex ways, and that they are at the very core of what lucid dreaming is and what it makes possible,” said Lohmann. This story was originally published by Trent University on, July 15, 2014. Is has been edited for style, brevity and clarity and appears here with permission.

In money we trust

U of T Staff (With introduction by Patchen Barss) | October 20, 2014

A few years ago, late, late at night, I was tooling around the streets of Ottawa in the back seat of a Jeep being driven by former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge. American economist and Nobel Laureate George Akerlof was riding shotgun. read more »
More Blogs »