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Could white bread be healthier?

Posted: 21 May 2024 | | No comments yet

Scientists at Aberystwyth University are exploring how peas, beans and oats added to wheat flour can boost white bread’s nutritional value.

Could white bread be healthier?

Healthier white bread could soon appear on the shelves of bakers and grocers across the UK thanks to research at Aberystwyth University.

Working with leading organic millers Shipton Mill, the team at Aberystwyth will be studying the milling and blending process for white flour.

The work – which could see UK sourced peas, beans and oats added to wheat flour to boost its nutritional value – is funded by Innovate UK’s ‘Better Food For All’ initiative.

The project is one of 47 projects to receive a share of £17.4 million from Innovate UK to improve food quality, create functional foods, boost nutrition, develop new proteins and extend the shelf life of healthy and fresh foods.

Chris Holister, Head of Product Development at Shipton Mill, said: “This project builds on our belief that variety and nature-friendliness is the way to measure the success of a crop, not speed and growth. In milling, our craft is to provide bakers with excellent and reliable results that work with nature and what the climate and seasonality can offer. We hope that this work can help make for a healthier and happier diet for very many people.

“With projects like this, we in the UK food industry have a chance to make a positive impact: creating innovative products and solutions that could both improve people’s health and create jobs in the sector.”

With 65% of all oats in the UK grown from varieties developed at Aberystwyth, the University is recognised as a leading centre for the development of new oat, bean and pea varieties.

The research project will make use of the facilities at the University’s innovation campus, AberInnovation. 

Dr Catherine Howarth, from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to improve people’s diets, especially those who favour the look and sensory attributes of white bread. The project underlines how our leading plant research here in Wales can make a difference to people’s lives. We hope this will be another chance to put our work, especially on beans, peas and oats, to very good use.”

Dr Amanda Lloyd, from the Department of Life Sciences at Aberystwyth University, added: “Poor diet plays a major role in ill-health, chronic diseases and a significant portion of cancer cases. Obesity rates are very high in the UK, with projected costs for the NHS at £9.7 billion by 2050 and society at nearly £50 billion annually. Using our expertise at the University, we hope that this project can play a role in tackling this growing issue of diet-related poor health and well-being.

“The project will also bring significant social and economic benefits to the UK and will further establish the UK as a leader in the flour and flour-based foods markets.”

Dr Stella Peace, Executive Director for the Healthy Living and Agriculture Domain at Innovate UK, said: “These projects showcase the extensive range and quality of innovation within the agri-food sector of the UK. With global challenges like food security, sustainability and nutrition, creative solutions are needed to make a tangible impact.

“At Innovate UK, we are committed to driving transformational change in food production and manufacture to shape the future economy and society as a whole.”

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