‘Mamma mia!’ Italian researchers say ‘si’ to probiotic pasta

Government-backed researchers develop low GI, polyphenols-rich probiotic pasta. Photo credit: iStock.com / DawidKasza

Italian researchers have developed a functional pasta rich in polyphenols and fortified with probiotic strain Bacillus coagulans.

According to the paper published in the Journal of Cereal Science the probiotic strain remained viable during the pasta-making and cooking processes.

About 3.04bn CFU (colony forming units) per 100 g of the strain remained in the final cooked pasta, which the researchers said was enough to hold health benefits for the consumer.

They cited research published last year that found B. coagulans could manipulate the microbiota when consumed at a concentration of 1bn CFU per day.

The strain has been reported to improve symptoms related to gastrointestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal gas as well as rheumatoid arthritis and enhance immunological responses. However there have been no health claims registered for the strain to date. 

The more the pasta was cooked the more cells were lost. The uncooked probiotic pasta had a strain concentration of about 2.2bn CFU per gram.

Optimal cooking time to ensure the pasta was cooked but not too many cells were lost was five to seven minutes.

“The information provided here suggests that the new developed functional pasta could represent a high-quality product for its suitable nutritional appeal and potential beneficial properties,” wrote the authors from the Research Centre for Cereal (CER) at the University of Verona and University of Parma in Italy.


The pasta not yet available on the market was made with durum wheat flour rich in polyphenols and added barley beta-glucan, which has been seen to help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower glycemic response.

The researchers tracked the impact of fortification on glycemic index for nine healthy volunteers. Average glycaemic index (GI) was recorded at 59.7, which would be graded as a low to medium on the GI.

“These raw material characteristics had a positive influence on pasta cooking performances as well as on its nutritional profile due to the high content of bound ferulic acid content (94% of total phenolic acids),” they wrote.

Investing in functional

The research used the patented Ganeden probiotic strain as supplied by Italian firm Sochim International. The project was funded by the Italian Ministry for Development. 

The researchers said there had been increasing interest in functional foods. 

“During the last decade, consumer requirements in the field of food production have changed considerably. Thus, foods are no more intended to only satisfy hunger and to provide the necessary nutrients, but also and especially to prevent nutrition-related diseases and to improve physical and mental well-being.

“In this frame, the functional foods represent one of the most interesting areas of research and innovation in the food industry.”


Source: Journal of Cereal Science

Volume 65, September 2015, Pages 260–266, doi:10.1016/j.jcs.2015.07.017

“Nutritional profile and cooking quality of a new functional pasta naturally enriched in phenolic acids, added with β-glucan and Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086”

Authors: C. Fares, V. Menga, A. Martina, N. Pellegrini, F. Scazzina, S. Torriani

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