Research and Advanced Education
Bread: from research to patent creation
PT 109262 - Bread with high resistant starch content and its production method
In 2010, following a Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences and a Master's Degree in Food Technology/Quality, Olga Amaral joined the Doctoral Programme in Metabolic Diseases and Food Behaviour, Health Science and Technology Branch, specialisation in Nutrition, at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
She has been working as an Assistant Professor at the Polytechnic Institute of Beja for more than 25 years in the areas of food, microbiology and nutrition, and chose the transversality of these subjects as the focus of her PhD thesis, which was presented in 2016.
Chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, among others, have become one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. These diseases result, to a large extent, from major lifestyle changes, including diet and inactivity. Functional foods, which have physiological health benefits, in addition to their nutritional value, are currently highly sought after by consumers as a supplement to healthy eating.
In this context, the scientific community has shown particular interest in the functional properties of resistant starch (RS), as it has been associated with physiological benefits, especially in pathologies such as intestinal diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and osteoporosis. The fact that not all starch is hydrolysed and absorbed by the human body has only relatively recently become known (1980s). This starch works as a dietary fibre and increasing its content in food is one of the ways to make food more interesting from a nutritional standpoint.
Despite being a basic foodstuff and one of the most important sources of carbohydrates in the Portuguese diet, bread has small amounts of RS. According to some studies, it is possible to promote the formation of RS during the manufacturing process, introducing changes in the formula, baking and storage conditions. Therefore, Olga Amaral the main purpose of the studies she carried out during the various stages of her work was to study the impact of the intake of bread with a high RS content, developed by optimising the manufacturing process, on the glycaemic and insulin response and on satiety in non-diabetics.
There were numerous tests focused on changing bread-manufacturing conditions in order to understand what increases its resistant starch content. The result of optimising the manufacturing process was a bread whose resistant starch content is three times higher than in ordinary bread. Then there was a clinical trial with 37 volunteers that proved the physiological benefits of this formulation. This bread with a high starch content induces a significantly lower glycaemic response than ordinary bread, has a lower Glycaemic Index (60), and induces greater satiety, meaning that smaller portions ad libitum will be consumed.
The title of the thesis is "Bread with high resistant starch content: technological development and in vivo study." In addition to scientific articles in journals, this work resulted in the registration of National Invention Patent No. 109262 at the National Institute of Industrial Property in 2018, and the Polytechnic Institute of Beja, where the research was developed, is the owner of the Invention. The other inventors of this patent are Professor Catarina de Sousa Guerreiro and Professor Marília Lopes Cravo, both from the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon.
The next step will be to present the product to bakery companies in order to start manufacturing it and offering it to consumers. From the research standpoint, it will be interesting to test the bread for longer periods of time and among populations with specific pathologies, such as diabetes.