Food chemists have shown that making a pizza crust with whole wheat flour and cooking it longer releases more antioxidants. These chronic disease-fighting compounds are increased by 82 percent when baked at a higher temperature, by 60 percent when baked twice as long and doubled when the dough was left to rise an extra day.
A team of food chemists at the University of Maryland has discovered how to boost the antioxidant content of pizza dough by optimizing baking and fermentation methods. Diets rich in antioxidants are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Making popular foods healthier using the tools of chemistry could have a significant impact on public health.
There’s no doubting its popularity — 350 slices of Pizza are eaten every second in the USA.
But no matter how much you love pizza, the tomato sauce on top does not mean you’re getting your veggies for the day. In fact, it’s usually unhealthy. Now, a new way to make pizza actually increases antioxidants which could help prevent cancer and heart disease from forming.
“The key important factor is that it’s made with whole wheat flour,” Marla Luther, a University of Maryland graduate student studying food sciences, says. Food chemists found that baking pizza longer, at higher temperatures gives the dough time to release more antioxidants, the nutrients in our bodies that help fight chronic disease. “The whole wheat flour is higher in antioxidants than just regular all purpose flour, and it’s those antioxidants that we studied,” Margaret Smitka, a registered dietician, says.
Antioxidants increased by as much as 60 percent when baked longer and as much as 82 percent when cooked in a hotter oven. Letting the dough rise for two days doubled the dough’s antioxidant levels. “The important message is … the little things you do at home may make your diet better,” says Liangli Lu, Ph.D., a food chemist from the University of Maryland.
Taste testers confirmed this new baking style recipe is an easy way to cook up a great tasting pizza at home just by making a few simple changes in the kitchen. “As a general consensus, people really enjoyed this as a homemade pizza product,” Smitka says.