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November 19, 2008 -- Bread, pasta, and other foods made from whole grains — known to help protect
against heart disease, cancer and diabetes — may get even healthier in the
future. Scientists in Europe collaborating in
the European Union HEALTHGRAIN project are reporting the largest study to date
comparing nutrient levels in the world’s different grain varieties, which could
lead to the development of healthier varieties of grain and grain-based foods,
they say. Their findings will be described in a group of papers scheduled for
the November 26 issue of the ACS’ Journal of
Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication.
the new study, Peter R. Shewry and colleagues point out that whole grain foods,
including wheat, rye and oats, have been widely touted in recent years for
having greater health benefits than refined grains. Health-promoting ingredients
in whole grains include fiber, antioxidants, folate, and other plant chemicals.
As nutrient levels can vary from grain to grain, however, it is unclear which
grain varieties pack the most nutritional punch, the researchers note.
To find out, the scientists grew 150 wheat varieties used for
bread-making and 50 other small-grain varieties (including oats, rye, and
barley) on a single farm in Hungary over a one year period. The
grains, grown from lines originating worldwide, were then harvested, milled,
and analyzed for a range of plant chemicals and fiber components considered to
have health benefits. The researchers identified grain varieties with high
levels of healthy components that could be used to breed new, nutrient-rich
varieties of grain for healthier whole grain foods.
News release courtesy of The American Chemical Society, a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress and a global leader in
providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases,
peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.
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