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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

All-Oat, All-Barley Breads Ahead? Maybe!

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All-Oat, All-Barley Breads Ahead? Maybe!

ARS scientists are helping farmers, food producers, and consumers reap production and nutritional benefits through oat and barley research. Some of the many foods we derive from oats and barley are breads, health bars, pearled barley, barley and oat flakes, hot and cold cereals, and oat and barley flour: Click here for photo caption.
ARS scientists are helping farmers, food producers, and consumers reap production and nutritional benefits through oat and barley research. Some of the many foods we derive from oats and barley are breads, health bars, pearled barley, barley and oat flakes, hot and cold cereals, and oat and barley flour.
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New interest in tasty, all-oat or all-barley breads might be sparked by the laboratory experiments now being conducted by chemist Wallace Yokoyama and postdoctoral nutritionist Hyunsook Kim. These delicious, healthful breads could appear on bakery or supermarket shelves that today are dominated by wheat flour-based loaves, yet would provide a different array of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein, and other components that “aren’t present in whole-wheat breads,” says Yokoyama.

“The large variety of multigrain loaves currently available in U.S. supermarkets and bakeries suggests that people have a growing interest in trying new kinds of whole-grain breads,” says Kim. Both scientists are with the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California, near San Francisco.

In preliminary experiments, Yokoyama, Kim, and colleagues used a commercially available, plant-derived fiber known as HPMC (short for hydroxypropyl methylcellulose) as a substitute for the gluten that’s present in wheat but lacking in other grains. Gluten nimbly traps the airy bubbles formed by yeast, lifting doughs and yielding high, attractive, nicely textured loaves.

But HPMC performs that essential biochemical chore, too. That was shown many years ago in research, with rice, conducted by now-retired Albany scientist Maura M. Bean.

For their tests, Yokoyama and Kim fed laboratory hamsters a high-fat diet and oat, barley, and wheat breads with HPMC added. They found that the experimental breads had cholesterol-lowering effects.

The HPMC that the scientists are investigating is derived from a plant source proprietary to manufacturer Dow Wolff Cellulosics of Midland, Michigan. Though this HPMC is widely used in familiar foods—as a thickener, for instance—its cholesterol-lowering properties as an ingredient in whole-grain breads haven’t been widely studied, says Yokoyama.

The Albany studies may ease oats and barley into the supermarket and bakery spotlight, giving these venerable grains a larger role in our meals and snacks—and our health.—By Marcia Wood, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

Wallace H. Yokoyama and Hyunsook Kim are with the USDA-ARS Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710; (510) 559-5695 (Yokoyama), (510) 559-5755 (Kim).

"All-Oat, All-Barley Breads Ahead? Maybe!" was published in the February 2010 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Last Modified: 2/2/2010