WELLINGTON, April 26 (Xinhua) -- It's been staple food across much of the world for centuries, but New Zealand researchers said Tuesday they have now perfected the common loaf of bread to make it healthier and cheap.
The University of Otago team compared commercial white breads available in 15 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations and high-seed breads from six OECD nations from the perspective of reducing the risk of heart disease.
They then used a computer-based method called linear programming to get the best mix of healthy ingredients into the bread designs for the lowest prices.
Lead author Professor Nick Wilson said bread was a high priority food to research when improving options for people to reduce diet-related disease risks.
"Bread can be a way to increase dietary intake of fiber and healthy seeds such as flaxseed/linseed," Wilson said in a statement.
"The problem of most breads being high in salt can also be addressed by reducing the amount of sodium-based salts and increasing the amount of healthier potassium-based salts. Potassium is particularly good for heart health."
The research found that the optimized loaf costing 1.50 NZ dollars (1.03 U.S dollars) in ingredients was superior to the commercial white loaves in such categories as having lower sodium and high potassium.
The more expensive bread costing 3 NZ dollars (2.07 U.S. dollars) in ingredients including linseed and walnuts was also nutritionally superior to the commercial loaves with seeds in terms of lower sodium, higher potassium, higher dietary fibre, and the best polyunsaturated fatty acid to saturated fatty acid ratio.
The low-cost healthier breads would help improve the food environment and reduce dietary risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, Wilson said.
But, he added, "While we liked the taste of these optimized breads, which we made in home bread-making machines, further taste testing with the public would be required to ensure adequate levels of public acceptability."