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viale cambonino 1
+39 3491960455
Università degli Studi di Milano
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Description of research relevant to the action : 

Several studies indicate that high whole grain diets work as protective factors against chronic diseases (Gil et al 2011; Qing Ye. et al 2012; McKeown et al 2013).These effects are likely related, at least in part, to their high content of fiber and bioactive compounds, with antioxidants and anti-carcinogenic properties, mainly present in bran and germ of cereal grains (Fardet et al 2010; Okarter et al 2010). Removal of these fractions during milling to improve shelf-life of the flour results in severe depletion of fiber and bioactive compounds. The loss of about 58% of fiber, 83% of Mg, 61% of folate and 79% of vitamin E has been shown comparing the content of important nutrients in wholemeal flour and white flour (Truswell 2002). The aleurone layer (the most outer layer of the endosperm) has been shown to contain many of these functional compounds (Bronus et al 2012) but it is partially eliminated in wheat flour milling as a by-product mostly used for the animal feed. The increasing demand for functional foods and the possibility to take advantage of agro-industrial by-products have attracted great interest in using bran-enriched products. This should lead to a greater value for wheat industries, reducing their environmental impact and getting an economic return. The main reason behind the low utilization rate of wheat bran in baking industry is the gritty texture, bitter and pungent flavour and coarse mouthfeel of bread caused by the bran. However, the fermentation of cereal bran, such as wheat and rye, has shown to be an interesting pre-treatment in order to improve technological, sensorial and nutritional properties of bran-enriched products (Katina et al 2007; Katina et al 2012; Poutanen et al 2009; Coda et al 2014) as well as to degrade anti-nutritive factors, such as phytic acid in order to increase mineral bioavailability (Lopez et al 2000).

My PhD project concerns the nutritional enhancement of grain milling by-products and, in particular, it is aimed to improve wheat bran nutritional properties,through fermentation process, in order to use the fermented bran as a functional ingredient. The fermentation process increased the availability of bioactive compounds, such as free ferulic acid, soluble fiber, and in particular the content of water-extractable arabinoxylans (WEAX), compounds with positive effects on glucose metabolism and prebiotic properties. The wheat bran is fermented through sourdoughlike fermentation process and/or microbial starter cultures as well.

From a nutritional point of view, arabinoxylans (AX) and compounds resulting from their hydrolysis, such as arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides (AXOS) and xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS), deserve particular attention. AX represent the major component of the dietary fiber fraction of cereal grains and are mainly found in the outer tissues of the wheat caryopsis as a water-unextractable fraction (WUAX), while the most of water-extractable arabinoxylans (WEAX) are distributed in the endosperm. AX consist of a linear backbone of xylose residues, un-substituted or mono- or di-substituted with residues of arabinose. AX also contain large amounts of ferulic acid and other phenolic compounds covalently linked to them (Saeed et al 2011). These compounds have different physico-chemical and functional properties depending on their solubility and structural characteristics. Due to their ability to induce viscosity, WEAX are able to delay the rate of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates leading to positive effects on the post-prandial glycemic and insulinemic responses (Lu et al 2000, 2004; Möhlig et al 2005). EFSA panel reports a cause and effect relationship between the consumption of arabinoxylan produced from wheat endosperm and reduction of post-prandial glycemic responses (EFSA 2011). Moreover, the soluble oligosaccharides (AXOS, XOS), resulting from hydrolysis of bran’s WUAX, have a potential prebiotic effect and anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant and hypocholesterolemic properties (Broekaert et al 2011; Francois et al 2012).

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Scientific Data
Target of research: 
Bioactives protection and delivery
Food systems: 
Solid foams
Area of investigation: 
Human physiology implication