In a newly published study, medical researchers at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna's Institute of Life Sciences in Pisa developed a special kind of pasta enriched with barley flour.
The barley contains a substance called beta-glucan that is known to help the body form new blood vessels – which could serve as a “natural bypass” in the event of a heart attack, the researchers said.
To test their theory, the team fed barley-enriched pasta to mice and then induced cardiac injury. They found that more of those mice survived than mice that had received regular wheat pasta.
In addition, the mice that survived in the control group had more damage to their hearts than the barley-fed mice that made it.
“It's the first time that the formation of natural bypasses was encouraged via functional food, such as pasta with barley beta-glucan,” lead researcher Vincenzo Lionetti told Ansa news agency.
The team hopes that enriched pasta will eventually prove “a friend to the heart” in humans.