CSIRO collaborates to explore development of healthier grains

17 December 2010

Bakerysnacks.com (17/12/2010) reports that a new multi-million dollar collaboration between grain scientists in Australia aims to fast-rack development of healthier varieties wheat, barley and rice fibre, with higher levels of fibre compounds seen to bring health benefits.

Wholegrains have repeatedly been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke, an effect that may be due to the beta glucans and arabinoxylans in soluble fibre blocking the re-absorption of cholesterol from the gut. This means more cholesterol is expelled by the body during digestion. Inclusion of fibre in packaged and prepared foods and beverages is of considerable interest to the food industry, especially as fibre intakes in many populations tend to fall short of recommendations. Europe barley beta glucan has received a positive health claim from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for health blood cholesterol.

The project is called the High Fibre Grains Cluster and has a budget of A$7m and has a time-frame of three years. The other partners are the CSIRO Food Futures Flagship, The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland. The collaborative approach is designed to enable fast results by bringing together expertise in cell wall components, cell wall polysaccharides and human health and nutrition”.

A previous three-year project funded by the Flagship Collaboration Fund that came to an end in March 2010, explored non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) within the cell wall – the biggest source of fibre in grains. The team looked at the functions controlling NSP and their synthesis, and ways of improving the ability to manipulate their levels and composition in grains.