Researchers boost fiber levels in wheat

by Jeff Gelski
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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. —More fiber in wheat could lead to more fiber in bread and a resulting increase in fiber consumption globally. Researchers in Australia and California are working to achieve such a scenario.

Arista Cereal Technologies in Australia has developed a high-fiber wheat variety that contains high levels of amylose, a starch molecule that occurs naturally in wheat and is resistant to digestion, thereby acting as fiber. In North America, Arista has chosen Bay State Milling Co., Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S., as its commercial partner to bring high-fiber wheat ingredients to the market.

Bay State Milling last year launched HealthSense high fiber wheat flour derived from the high-amylose wheat. Resistant starch, which is in the wheat, has been shown to decrease glycemic response to foods, a factor important in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.

Arcadia Biosciences, Davis, California, U.S., has developed a wheat variety that contains 94% amylose, which compares to 25% to 30% in traditional wheat. The higher levels of amylose correspond to higher levels of resistant starch. Arcadia Biosciences has launched a GoodWheat brand that includes the wheat variety with the high levels of resistant starch as well as a wheat variety that has a reduced amount of gluten.

“We believe that branding these ingredients enables consumer food companies to differentiate their products from their competitors and assures consumers that they are getting a healthy ingredient in their products, including flour, bread, pasta, cookies, cereals and other wheat products,” said Rajendra Ketkar, president and chief executive officer, in a May 9 earnings call.

Increasing the fiber intrinsic to wheat allows food companies to have cleaner labels, he said.

“Wheat is in an important part of our diet,” Ketkar said. “As much as 500 calories per day, or almost 25% of the normal intake of 2,000 calories per day in the typical American diet, comes from wheat. By delivering healthier wheat varieties to consumers we can contribute to improved health benefits for our customers.”

Sales could begin in the next year or two.

“We are now planting increased acres of wheat to produce enough wheat for us to supply samples for expanded testing by our processor and food company customers,” Ketkar said. “We recognize that to be successful as an ingredients provider, we need to build relationships across the wheat value chain. We are building these partnerships with seed production, processors and food companies to bring our wheat products to consumers, and we are providing samples to companies for testing in their product development and market testing process as we prepare for sales.”

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