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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Healthier Pizza Crust - Just Dump the Cheese

University of Maryland food chemists have been filling their pizza ovens with whole wheat pizza dough and then mucking around with the temperature and time just like the host of any cooking show.

Here's their secret: give the dough plenty of time to rise and then bake it longer in a hotter oven.

Researchers found antioxidant levels rose by up to 60 per cent with longer baking times and up to 82 per cent with higher baking temperatures. The precise mechanisms involved were unclear, they said. They looked at fermentation times up to two days, and found that longer periods could double antioxidant levels. A common fermentation time is about 18 hours.

By procrastination and failing to follow the directions: I could have come up with this recipe.

But I wouldn't have known afterward that doing so raised the antioxidant content of the baked dough.

Why is this good? According to a Reuters story I found on
Antioxidants protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Some experts believe antioxidants can lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and other ailments.

You can't celebrate just yet.
But there was no point celebrating with extra cheese and sausage toppings, [researcher Jeffrey Moore] said. "If you're adding back all these other things that have potential negative health consequences, then you're negating anything in terms of [health] value," Mr Moore said.

So what works is a cheese-free pizza. Just what lots of us who are lactose intolerant have learned to eat. Veggies instead of sausage and pepperoni make for healthier toppings as well.

I've had whole wheat crust pizzas. They're not bad. They should be even better when this technique catches on.

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