Pomegranate is an increasingly popular fruit. It is either consumed as it is, or processed to make canned beverages, concentrates, jam, jelly, juice, and paste. It is widely consumed in Turkey – the third biggest producer of the fruit – and the rest of the world.
Its popularity stems from its treasure trove of phytochemicals. Ascorbic acid, carotenoids, ellagic acid, flavonoids, polyphenols, and tannins are just some of these healthy compounds to be found in a single pomegranate fruit.
These phytochemicals have undergone testing in numerous studies. Their pharmacological activities on digestive problems, heart diseases, stomach ulcers, and even several cancers are well-documented. They have earned pomegranate the description of being a "superfood."
In particular, the seed of the pomegranate is even more nutritious than the edible fruit. A dietary oil made from the fiber-rich seed was shown to reduce obesity and insulin resistance in a mice model. (Related: The brain-boosting effects of pomegranates, even after a stroke.)
Given the plentiful bioactive compounds and dietary fiber, Suleyman Demirel University (SDU) researchers considered the possibility of using pomegranate seeds as a functional ingredient in bread. The addition of seed flour could theoretically enrich the bread with pomegranate's antioxidant properties and dietary fiber, although its effects on the solid and fluid characteristics of bread dough – as well as bread quality – would need to be determined as well.
The researchers acquired both commercial bread wheat flour and dried, milled pomegranate seed flour. The latter was analyzed for the presence of phytochemicals.
Researchers used four different formulations of flour enriched with pomegranate seed flour – at levels of zero percent, five percent, 7.5 percent, and 10 percent of the total amount, respectively. Each mixture was turned into dough and analyzed for any changes in properties. The formulations were used to prepare and bake bread. Each resulting bread was evaluated for its quality, its texture, and its appearance.
The SDU researchers reported that the five percent level of pomegranate seed flour substitution showed the best results overall. The soft and hard properties of the dough, the volume of the loaf, the hardness of the crumb, and the appearance of the bread showed only a slight decrease compared to those found in wheat flour-only bread.
At higher levels of substitution, the seed flour negatively affected the qualities of the dough and bread.
Furthermore, the addition of pomegranate seed flour greatly increased the fiber in the bread. However, the antioxidant activity and total phenolic content of the fortified breads did not change.
The researchers theorized that adding pomegranate seed flour in excess of the 10 percent level might raise the antioxidants and phenolics in the fortified bread. In that case, additional research will be needed to find a way to prevent large amounts from degrading the quality of the bread.
Based on the results of their experiment, the SDU researchers recommended that wheat flour could be fortified with five percent level of pomegranate seed flour. The resulting bread would be richer in healthy fiber, cheaper than full wheat flour bread, and will not require any drastic changes to existing bread-making technologies.
They also recommended additional testing in the form of animal studies so that the nutritional effects of pomegranate seed flour-fortified bread can be determined.
You can learn more about other healthy superfoods at Fruits.news.