University of Maryland food chemists said they had found ways to enhance the antioxidant content of whole-grain wheat pizza dough by baking it longer at higher temperatures and giving the dough lots of time to rise.
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Some experts believe antioxidants can lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and other ailments.
Liangli Lucy Yu, a food chemistry professor, said the findings arose from broader research into ways to improve health-promoting properties of wheat-based food products.
The research was served up at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Chicago, a mecca for deep-dish, thick-crust pizza.
Researchers experimented with baking temperatures, baking time and fermentation time – the time the pizza dough is given to rise.
A hotter oven
Baking time and temperature can be increased together without burning the pizza when done carefully, the researchers said. They used oven temperatures from 204° to 287 °, and baking times from 7 to 14 minutes.
Only whole wheat dough was used for the study. Most of the antioxidants in wheat are in the bran and endosperm components that are generally removed in refined flour, Moore said. Thus, longer and hotter baking and longer fermentation likely would be less effective in making more healthful pizza with refined flour, he said.
The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and grain organizations, but not by the pizza industry.