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Mushroom ?-glucan could be high-fibre wheat substitute, study

April 15th, 2011

A wheat substitute derived from mushrooms containing ?-glucans could be used to produce healthier cakes with quality attributes similar to those of the control, finds a new study.

Researchers, writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that low-grade Lentinus edodes mushrooms can be effective in producing ?-glucan-enriched materials (BGEMs), which can then be used as a high-fibre and low-calorie substitute for wheat flour.

It is widely recognised that ?-glucans contained in mushrooms have beneficial health effects such as hypocholesterolaemic, anti-tumour, and immunomodulatory activities, said the authors.

They note that much R&D work has focused on produce ?-glucan-enriched substances from various cereal sources and incorporating these into a variety of foods including baked, dairy and confectionery products.

But the researchers point out that thought there has been a lack of scientific and industrial trials to effectively extract ?-glucans from mushrooms for food applications.

“Extensive physiological and biological emphasis has been placed on pharmaceutical and medicinal uses of mushrooms containing ?-glucans, but their incorporation into processed functional foods is quite limited,” argue the South Korean based food scientists.

 

?-Glucans (beta-glucans) are polysaccharides of D-glucose monomers linked by ?-glycosidic bonds. ?-glucans are a diverse group of molecules that can vary with respect to molecular mass, solubility, viscosity, and three-dimensional configuration.

The study

Low-grade Lentinus edodes mushrooms were subjected to hydrothermal treatment to obtain ?-glucan-enriched materials. The baking performance of the resulting ?-glucan-enriched materials was then tested by incorporating them into cake formulations as a substitute for wheat flour.

The fractions obtained from Lentinus edodes mushrooms contained 514 g kg?1 of (1–3)-?-glucans with (1–6)-?-linked side chains and the chemical structure was confirmed by NMR and FTIR spectroscopy, said the team.

The structure and chemical composition of the ?-glucan-enriched materials were analysed, and their interactions with water and wheat flour were investigated.

The baking results showed that the use of ?-glucan-enriched materials for wheat flour produced cakes containing 1 g of ?-glucan per serving and had similar volume and textural properties to the control, note the research team.

“The overall tendency was that cakes containing high amounts of BGEMs had lower values of volume index. Increased wheat flour replacement with BGEMs in the formulation caused a reduction in the height of the center peak, giving the cakes a relatively flat appearance.

However, there was no significant difference between the control and BGEM cake containing 1 g of ?-glucan per serving,” reported the scientists.

The researchers concluded that their findings will encourage the food industry to use mushroom ?-glucan as an alternative fibre source in commercial bakery and other food manufacturing.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture

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