CSIRO helps develop high-fibre wheat

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is part of an international team that has developed a new type of wheat with 10 times the amount of fibre of regular wheat.

The new wheat could provide millions of people with more fibre in their diets without having to change their eating habits, helping improve gut health and fighting bowel cancer and Type 2 diabetes.

The wheat is a result of a collaboration which started in 2006 between CSIRO, French company Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients, and the Grains Research and Development Corporation on developing wheat varieties with a higher content of resistant starch. Together they created a company called Arista Cereal Technologies.

A small group of farmers in Idaho, Oregon and Washington have recently harvested the first US crop of the wheat, which is high in amylose.

The wheat will be processed into flour and incorporated into a range of food products that will start appearing on supermarket shelves in the United States in coming years.

The team responsible for developing the wheat are hopeful an Australian-based company will market the new grain locally.

Dr Ahmed Regina, a principal research scientist at CSIRO, said products made from high-amylose wheat contained more than 10 times the resistant starch, a type of dietary fibre, than those made from 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,” Dr Regina said.

Wheat is eaten by 30 per cent of the world’s population and is the most popular source of dietary fibre, he said.

“Having a wheat with high levels of resistant starch enables people to get this important fibre without changing the type of grain they eat or the amount of grain-based foods they need for recommended dietary levels.”

Together they spun out a company called Arista Cereal Technologies.

In Australia, Arista is partnering with a breeding company to develop high-amylose wheat varieties suitable for different regions.

They are working on producing enough grain for product testing and seeds for initial commercialisation.

Lindsay Adler from CSIRO and an Arista Director, said the company was keen to find an Australian licensee who would develop a new product for local and possibly also Asian markets.

“This is an opportunity ripe for the picking, with customers across the world increasingly demanding foods with improved health benefits,” Mr Adler said.