New type of wheat could transform daily fiber intake

January 3rd, 2020

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.

Wheat is a main component of many of life’s joys, from pizza bases, to pastas to the blanket around your burrito. We’ve developed a way to make wheat, and in a small way pizza, better for you.

We’ve created a type of wheat that’s high in amylose, which means it has the ability to provide a much higher fiber diet, without changing eating habits.

Dietary fiber is an important part of any healthy diet; Americans frequently fail to meet their daily intakes. Resistant starch is a kind of dietary fiber that has been shown to improve digestive health, protect against the genetic damage that may precede bowel cancer and even help combat Type 2 diabetes. High-amylose wheat is high in resistant starch.

For most Americans, one of their main sources of dietary fiber is wheat. Dr Ahmed Regina, a principal research scientist at CSIRO, said that products made from high-amylose wheat contain more than ten times the resistant starch- a type of dietary fiber- than those made from regular wheat.

US-based, Bay State Milling Company, have just harvested the first successful crop in America.

How did it all begin?

In 2006, we teamed up with French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) to create wheat varieties with a higher content of resistant starch. Together we spun out a company called Arista Cereal Technologies Pty Ltd.

The big eureka moment was when we identified two particular enzymes that are responsible for reducing amylose content. When we reduced the presences of these enzymes, the amylose content increases.

We selectively developed these plants to create a wheat lines that have around 50-60% more amylose than regular wheat. This increased the level of resistant starch to more than 20 per cent of total starch in the grain, compared to less than one per cent in regular wheat.

Where to next?

Bay State Milling Company is the first company globally to take this technology to the market through a licensing arrangement with Arista. This year, they’ll grow around 400 hectares of high-amylose wheat in the US, which they’re marketing as HealthSenseTM high fiber wheat flour.

The US-grown wheat will be processed into flour and incorporated into a range of food products that Americans can expect to see appearing on their supermarket shelves in the coming years.