New Type of Wheat Could Transform Daily Fiber Intake
A new type of wheat, which could offer millions of people a way to boost their fiber intake without having to change their diets, is being harvested for the first time in the United States.
The wheat is high-amylose wheat and contains more than ten times the amount of resistant starch compared to regular wheat. Largely lacking in Western diets, resistant starch is known to improve digestive health, protect against the genetic damage that precedes bowel cancer and help combat Type 2 diabetes.
Farmers in Minnesota and Washington have become the first to harvest the wheat which will be processed into flour and incorporated into a range of food products, including bread.
The development of the wheat was led in Australia by scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in collaboration with Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients. CSIRO is Australia’s preeminent national research agency.
“Wheat is the most popular source of fiber and eaten by 30 percent of the world’s population, whether it’s in bread, pizzas, pastas or tortillas,” says Dr. Ahmed Regina, a principal research scientist at CSIRO. “Having a wheat with high levels of resistant starch enables people to get this important fiber without changing the type of grain they eat or the amount of grain-based foods they need for recommended dietary levels.”
Working with French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, CSIRO bred the new wheat variety – increasing amylose content from around 20 or 30 percent to 85 percent.
US-based Bay State Milling Company is bringing the new wheat into the US market. They recently contracted farmers to grow around 1,000 acres of the wheat, which they will market as HealthSense high fiber wheat flour.
“We are very excited to launch HealthSense in the US and change the way Americans think about wheat,” says Peter Levangie, Bay State Milling’s CEO. “HealthSense will deliver flour functionality to our customers and fiber benefits to consumers, enabling better human health through the foods they love to eat.”
Though it’s unclear when the wheat might be available in grocery stores to the average consumer, the flour will be made available to bakers and food manufacturers to trial early next year.
CSIRO opened its first US office this year to speed the development of new strategic partnerships with U.S. companies and organizations across many sectors, including agriculture, aerospace and health.