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Traditional non-wheat grains as novel ingredients
 4 min read

Cereals provide an excellent medium for diversity and innovation. Minor cereals, ancient grains, pseudocereals and legumes constitute highly nutritional and healthy grains, most of them with potential breadmaking applications. Researchers from Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos (CSIC) in Spain investigated the quality of breads in which the wheat was partially replaced by a single whole grain or mixtures of whole grains. Barley can even result in nutritional and health claims on your product. Here are five promising wheat substitutions that can be used on a large scale.

1 Oat, rye and buckwheat mixtures

The researchers tested many mixtures containing oat, rye, buckwheat and wheat flour. Mixtures containing 20% oat, 20% rye, 20% buckwheat and 40% common wheat flours were suitable to make highly nutritious, modern and innovative baked goods. The resulting breads had enhanced nutritional quality: more proteins, minerals, fibre and resistant starch, improved antioxidant activity and less digestible starch. Moreover, they received high sensory scores, had extended shelf-life and were easy to handle during processing.

2 Oat, millet or sorghum

Wheat can be replaced by either 30% of millet or sorghum, or 50% of oat without sensory or viscoelastic impairments. Viscoelasticity is essential for the typical structure of bread. When even higher amounts of oat, millet or sorghum were used, the dough was more difficult to handle and the bread tasted worse. However, adding gluten, vegetable fat, surfactants, ascorbic acid and antistaling additives improved the quality of the bread, making it possible to increase the millet or sorghum fraction to 40% and oat to 60%. Breads with oat and breads with sorghum scored a little higher on acceptability than breads with wheat alone. Oat, millet and sorghum represent a viable alternative to make aerated breads.

3 Legumes

It is possible to make highly nutritious breads with mixtures of 42% legumes, 52% wheat and 6% structuring agents. They have more proteins, more beneficial fibre fractions, lower and slower starch hydrolysis, lower rapidly digestible starch and reduced expected glycemic index. The legumes were chickpea, pea and oilseed of soybeen for the nutritional and functional added value. The structuring agents were gluten and carboxymethylcellulose which mimics gluten network functionality. All breads received an acceptability score of 7 out of 10.

You can use a very simple formulation to make these type of breads

4 Barley for health claims

Barley contains ß-glucan fibres, which have been praised for their positive health effects. Breads with high ß-glucan barley are more nutritious than those replaced by commercial barley and much more than regular wheat flour breads: elevated levels of dietary fibre fractions, slowly digestible starch and polyphenols providing anti-radical activity. Forty percent of wheat was replaced by commercial barley or high ß-glucan barley. The dough was easy to handle and sensory scores were preserved or even improved.

Bread with 40% commercial barley flour can state the nutrition claim: ‘a source of fibre’, because it contains at least 3 g/100 g bread. Bread with 40% high ß-glucan barley flour can state ‘high in fibre’, containing at least 6 g/100 g bread. In addition, the high ß-glucan barley bread contains enough ß-glucans for the health claim ‘contributing to a reduced blood cholesterol level’ approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of 3 g/day.

5 Teff, green pea and buckwheat

Mixtures of 7.5%  teff,  15% green pea, 15% buckwheat and 62.5% wheat flours also provided technologically viable and sensory acceptable rated multigrain breads with superior nutritional value compared to their 100% wheat counterpart: larger amounts of bio-accessible polyphenols, higher anti-radical activity, lower and slower starch digestibility. All these multigrain breads can be labelled as ‘a source of dietary fibre’ with more than 3 g fibres per 100 g bread.


The researchers optimized the composition of flour mixes, so that the sensory and viscoelastic characteristics of the doughs are good. The gluten that is needed for the structure and fermentation of the dough is diluted when non-wheat flours are added to the wheat flour matrix in high amounts. Therefore, in those products often less fermentation occurs, resulting in harder texture and lower volumes. The new mixes give no problems with stickiness or adhesiveness during doughmaking and were easy to handle during processing.

More tips?

According to Concha Collar, Professor of Research in Spain, “No special tips are needed to make these type of breads. You can use a very simple formulation consisting of a flour mix, compressed yeast, salt and water, and in some cases, a small amount of additives. For a sponge-dough process, it is best to use all the wheat flour for the sponge.” Would you like to receive more tips? Use the area below to get in touch with the author of this article.

This research is integrated in a Spanish Research Project AGL2011-22669 that is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Sustainability for 2011–2015.


Angioloni, A., & Collar, C. (2011). Nutritional and functional added value of oat,Kamut, spelt, rye, and buckwheat versus common wheat in breadmaking. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 91, 1283–1292.

Angioloni, A., & Collar, C. (2012). High legume-wheat matrices: An alternative to pro-mote bread nutritional value meeting dough viscoelastic restrictions. European Food Research and Technology, 234/2, 273–284.

Angioloni, A., & Collar, C. (2013). Suitability of Oat, Millet and Sorghum in Breadmaking. Food and Bioprocess Technology, 6, 1486–1493.

Collar, C., & Angioloni, A. (2014a). Pseudocereals and teff in complex breadmak-ing matrices: Impact of lipid dynamics on the bread functional and nutritionalprofiles. Journal of Cereal Science, 59, 145–154.

Collar, C., & Angioloni, A. (2014b). Nutritional and functional performance of barley flours in breadmaking: mixed breads vs wheat breads. European Food Research and Technology, 238, 459–469.

Collar, C., Jiménez, T., Conte, P., & Fadda, C. (2014). Impact of ancient cereals,pseudocereals and legumes on starch hydrolysis and antiradical activity of tech-nologically viable blended breads. Carbohydrate Polymers, 113, 149–158.

Collar, C., Jiménez, T., Conte, P., & Piga, A. (2015). Significance of thermal transitions on starch digestibility and firming kinetics of restricted water mixed flour bread matrices. Carbohydrate Polymers, 122, 169-179.

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Contact person:
Concha Collar
Professor of research
Instituto de Agroquímica y Tecnología de Alimentos (CSIC)

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