The UK should swap regular flour for bread made with broad beans, according to researchers. By switching to “beans in toast”, research leader at University of Reading, Professor Julie Lovegrove says the country could improve nutrition quality and reduce the environmental impact of food production.
Prof Lovegrove said: “We had to think laterally: what do most people eat and how can we improve their nutrition without them having to change their diets? The obvious answer is bread.
“Ninety-six per cent of people in the UK eat bread, and 90% of that is white bread, which in most cases contains soya. We’ve already performed some experiments and found that fava bean flour can directly replace imported soya flour and some of the wheat flour, which is low in nutrients. We can not only grow the fava beans here, but also produce and test the fava bean-rich bread, with improved nutritional quality.”
The research project has received £2m in government funding, and combines scientists, farmers and policymakers and aims to increase the British population’s broad bean consumption. Most broad beans in the country currently go towards feeding animals.
The researchers are also looking to serve foods based on fava beans in the university catering and food outlets, and will use students as a way to rate the food. Matt Tebbit, head of University of Reading’s catering service and part of the project, said: “Students will be asked to rate products made or enriched with fava beans, such as bread, flatbread, and hummus.
“They will be asked questions about how full they felt, for how long and their liking of the foods. It is hoped that fava beans will improve satiety, as well as providing enhanced nutritional benefits in products that are enjoyable to eat.”