Impact of brief roasting on starch gelatinization in whole foods and implications for plant food nutritional ecology in human evolution

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Cooking is an important technology for its capacity to increase food digestibility, particularly for plant foods, potentially playing a significant role in human evolution to increase nutritional acquisition. However, the contextual impetus for cooking is less well understood. One mode of cooking used by modern humans is to roast food directly in an open flame fire for very brief durations. This technique may be a behavioral analogue to that of early human ancestors. Here, we provide experimental data on starch gelatinization patterns in domesticated underground storage organs and starchy fruit as a result of brief fire roasting. We employed a count-based method using light-microscopy and a semi-quantitative photometric strategy to observe the kinetic process of gelatinization. We find that brief roasting over an open fire results in low levels of starch gelatinization. These findings suggest that brief roasting may not benefit a consumer through changes to starch structure alone

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