A natural plant pigment extract could be the ticket to creating “diabetic” bread, according to new research from the National University of Singapore.

A group of food scientists found a viable bread recipe using anthocyanin, which is extracted from black rice. Bread made with this compound was found to be digested at a slower rate – which helps to improve blood glucose control.

Anthocyanin is a naturally occuring flavanoid – one of many found in fruits and vegetables that give these foods their bright colors. The pigment is also high in antioxidants.

This is the first study to examine how anthocyanin worked when fortified into a bread product.

Slower digestion = better blood sugar

The study authors found that digestion rates reduced by 12.8 percent when subjects ate bread that had been fortified with 1 percent of anthocyanin extract. Digestion rates dropped even lower when researchers increased the extract to 4 percent.

Professor Zhou Weibiao, Director of the Food Science and Technology Programme at the NUS Faculty of Science, elaborated:

Despite their antioxidant capacity and associated health benefits, the knowledge of using anthocyanins as an ingredient in food products, particularly semi-solid products, is very limited. Hence, we wanted to explore the feasibility of fortifying anthocyanins into bread, to understand how it affects digestibility and its impact on the various quality attributes of bread.

In previous research, the team also found that bread baked with anthocyanin extract retained 80 percent of its antioxidant capacity.

“We hope to conduct further studies to incorporate anthocyanins into other food items, such as biscuits,” Prof Zhou said. “Our team is also keen to explore opportunities to work with industry partners to introduce the anthocyanin-fortified bread to the market.”

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