Using Barley Flour to Formulate Foods to Meet Health Claims
Barley is an ancient cereal grain with high nutritional value and very specific health benefits. It is a good source of protein, insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals and an excellent source of the soluble fiber β-glucan. β-Glucan has been shown to reduce cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, and Canada, the United States, and the European Union have all approved heart-health claims for barley-containing foods. In addition to its nutritional benefits, barley has a pleasant flavor that makes it a practical choice for formulating a variety of health-promoting food products. Whole grain hulless barley flour can be used to formulate health-promoting baked products, pastas, and direct expanded snack/breakfast cereal products. Partial substitution of wheat flour with whole grain barley flour resulted in the production of high-quality products, although modifications to formulation and processing conditions were needed, including higher water absorption levels and longer mixing times. The level of barley flour substitution used depended on the end-product, but in general, good quality pasta and baked products were achieved at substitution levels between 20 and 50%. For a direct expanded snack/breakfast cereal product, good results were achieved at a 100% substitution level. At the levels tested, many of the products were eligible for a barley heart-health claim, but eligibility was affected by the country where the claim would be made and the amount of barley flour used. Use of flour milled from waxy and zero-amylose barley varieties helped in achieving the required β-glucan levels in the final products.