A G Hall - Articles and news items
Issue 4 2011 • 6 September 2011 • Gwénaëlle Le Gall, Peter R. Shewry, E.N. Clare Mills and Geraldine A. Toole, Institute of Food Research
Wheat is the most widely grown cereal in the world and is used to make a variety of baked goods, such as bread, biscuits, pasta, noodles and breakfast cereals. On hydration of flour to make a dough, the seed storage proteins form a cohesive mass known as gluten. This protein fraction has a unique structure and viscoelastic properties1 that have allowed wheat to be used in such a versatile way. Dough properties vary between different cultivars and wheat lines – making some of them more suitable for pasta, others bread and others biscuits. Often, these products are made from white flour, and yet it is clear that there are beneficial effects of having a diet rich in whole grain and fibre derived from the endosperm cell walls and the outer layers of the grain that are found in the bran fraction. Whilst the variation in properties of gluten components has been extensively described, variation in cereal cell wall composition has been less studied yet might make an important contribution to improving the nutritional quality of cereal foods2.
Chocolate is widely appreciated globally as a luxury food. Although its introduction to Europe and the rest of the world occurred some 500 years ago, the cocoa bean had been recognised as a highly significant plant in South America for thousands of years prior to that – having been cultivated by the Aztecs.
So prized was their drink (chocolatl, derived from the bean) that it was referred to as ‘the food of the gods’ in their mythology. In turn, this was clearly an influence many years later when the genus, of which the cacao species is a part, was named Theobroma – a derivation of the Greek words for God (Theos) and food (broma) (Russell Cook, 1963).
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