Junk Food Junkies Dream Comes True: Pizza as Health Food


WASHINGTON - In a study financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and not by the pizza industry, food chemists at the University of Maryland have determined that they have found ways to increase the antioxidant levels of whole-grain wheat pizza. Antioxidants are believed by experts to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases.

As part of a broader research study to improve the health promoting properties found in wheat-based food products, pizza was selected because it was a very popular food.  Not just in the U.S.
but worldwide.

So the food chemists searched for ways to increase the antioxidant levels of the whole-grain wheat pizza and came up with some extraordinary results.  The chemists experimented with baking temperatures, baking time, and fermentation time.  Fermentation time is the time given the pizza dough to rise.

The researchers managed to increase the antioxidant levels by up to 60% with longer baking times and up to 85% with higher baking temperatures.

Both the baking time and baking temperature can be increased without burning the pizza, if done carefully, said the researchers.

They used oven temperatures of 400-550 degrees Fahrenheit, and baking times of 7 to 15 minutes.

They fermented the pizza dough for up to two days, and found that the additional time doubled the antioxidants of the pizza.  According to a researcher, the extra fermentation time allowed the yeasts to cause more internal reactions and release more antioxidants.  Typically, fermentation time is about 18 hours. 

While the funding was only for wheat-based food products, the researchers generally agreed that refined flour could not create the same antioxidant levels.  Most of the antioxidants in the wheat grain flour have been stripped from the refined flour, they added.

Their final word of caution was to beware of toppings.  "If you add fatty cheeses, sausages, pepperoni, and other fatty toppings, then you'll probably be negating all the effects of the healthy pizza," they warned.


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    Stan Kenyon
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