BACKGROUND: Emmer wheat (T. turgidum ssp. dicoccum Schrank) is an old Mediterranean crop grown for centuries and progressively replaced with durum wheat. Although most of its supposed nutritional properties have not yet been scientifically proven, emmer seems to be appreciated for its content of dietary fibre, resistant starch (RS) and antioxidant compounds. The aim of this work was to evaluate the profiles of dietary fibre, starch and antioxidant compounds in raw materials and in semolina of 13 selected emmer lines and their parents (a durum wheat cultivar and an old T. turgidum dicoccum population). Moreover, the cooking effect on functional properties and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) of pasta derived from emmer lines and the in vivo effect of pasta on postprandial glucose response were determined. RESULTS: Processing and cooking affected the dietary fibre content of pasta: the insoluble dietary fibre content was increased, while a slight loss of soluble dietary fibre was observed. Cooking also resulted in a noteworthy increase in amylose and RS content. The antioxidant compounds (i.e., tocols and carotenoids) as well as TAC decreased dramatically after cooking. Pasta obtained with an emmer line significantly lowered the glycaemic index, strengthening the concept of pasta product as a source of functional components in the habitual diet. CONCLUSIONS: The results showed that emmer semolina is suitable for the preparation of pasta with good organoleptic quality and represents a source of RS and fibre, but processing and cooking negatively affected the amount of antioxidant compounds detected in the wholemeal.
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