Wheat that’s good for guts

A new kind of wheat high in resistant starch can improve intestinal health

Bowel cancer is the world’s third most common cancer. A diet that includes more resistant starch, a kind of fibre that feeds good bacteria in the large intestine, can make it less common. Resistant starch helps improve gut health and reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer.

Since 2006, CSIRO scientists have been working in a joint venture with French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the Grains Research and Development Corporation to develop wheat with more resistant starch.

“Wheat is the major source of dietary fibre in many countries, so we created a type that’s high in an important component of starch called amylose. When we turn it into flour, it retains the resistant starch, and we can use it in bread, noodles and other staple foods,” says Dr Tony Bird from CSIRO Health and Biosecurity.

“We are not seeing any differences in food taste or texture, which means people can have a much higher fibre diet without changing their eating habits.”

CSIRO and Limagrain formed a company called Arista Cereal Technologies to commercialise high amylose wheat (HAW). Arista is now working with Bay State Milling in the United States to grow and distribute HealthSense High Fibre Wheat Flour. Products made from high amylose wheat contain more than ten times as much resistant starch as those made from regular wheat.

“Bay State Milling has produced commercial amounts of high amylose wheat since the northern spring of 2018, and the first products will arrive on the market in the northern spring of 2019,” says Eric Vaschalde of Arista Cereal Technologies.

“In Australia, we are working with Woods Foods to grow and distribute high amylose wheat grain for breakfast cereals and bars. We expect significant commercial production in 2020.”

Banner Image: CSIRO researchers Suzhi Li and Regina Ahmed with the new variety of wheat. Credit: CSIRO