Mushroom β-glucan could be high-fibre wheat substitute, study

12 April 2011 (12/04/2011) reported on a new study that  found a wheat substitute derived from mushrooms containing β-glucans could be used to produce healthier cakes with quality attributes similar to those of the control. Researchers, writing in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, found that low-grade Lentinus edodes mushrooms can be effective in producing β-glucan-enriched materials (BGEMs), which can then be used as a high-fibre and low-calorie substitute for wheat flour.

It is widely recognised that β-glucans contained in mushrooms have beneficial health effects such as hypocholesterolaemic, anti-tumour, and immunomodulatory activities. The authors of the Journal note that much R&D work has focused on produce β-glucan-enriched substances from various cereal sources and incorporating these into a variety of foods including baked, dairy and confectionery products. But the researchers point out that thought there has been a lack of scientific and industrial trials to effectively extract β-glucans from mushrooms for food applications. Extensive physiological and biological emphasis has been placed on pharmaceutical and medicinal uses of mushrooms containing β-glucans, but their incorporation into processed functional foods is quite limited.

Low-grade Lentinus edodes mushrooms were subjected to hydrothermal treatment to obtain β-glucan-enriched materials. The baking performance of the resulting β-glucan-enriched materials was then tested by incorporating them into cake formulations as a substitute for wheat flour.The fractions obtained from Lentinus edodes mushrooms contained 514 g kg−1 of (1–3)-β-glucans with (1–6)-β-linked side chains and the chemical structure was confirmed by NMR and FTIR spectroscopy. The structure and chemical composition of the β-glucan-enriched materials were analysed, and their interactions with water and wheat flour were investigated.

The baking results showed that the use of β-glucan-enriched materials for wheat flour produced cakes containing 1 g of β-glucan per serving and had similar volume and textural properties to the control. Cakes containing high amounts of BGEMs had lower values of volume index. Increased wheat flour replacement with BGEMs in the formulation caused a reduction in the height of the center peak, giving the cakes a relatively flat appearance.

The researchers concluded that their findings will encourage the food industry to use mushroom β-glucan as an alternative fibre source in commercial bakery and other food manufacturing.

Source: Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Published online ahead of print: DOI: 10.1002/jsfa.4409
Title: (1–3)(1–6)-β-Glucan-enriched materials from Lentinus edodes mushroom as a high-fibre and low-calorie flour substitute for baked foods
Authors: J. Kim, S. Mi Lee, I.Young Bae, H-G Park, H. Gyu Lee, S. Lee