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  • Unconventional Ag

Researchers Work to Improve Wheat's Health Benefits with Resistant Starch

Carbohydrates pose a problem for many consumers who struggle with obesity or health issues such as diabetes. In response, a University of California, Davis-led Triticeae Coordinated Agricultural Project (T-CAP) is working to modify durum wheat genes to increase resistant starch content by more than 750%. Resistant starch is a component of dietary fiber that can reduce blood glucose and insulin levels, increase satiety, or the feeling of being full after a meal, lower cholesterol and improve gastrointestinal health.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) granted T-CAP with $25 million in 2011 to support work in improving wheat and barley germplasm, and last year, approximately 15% of the harvested wheat acreage and 4% of the country’s harvested barley acreage came from varieties developed by the T-CAP program.

It may take between five and ten years of further research and development to bring new resistant starch products to market, but as American consumers continue to seek out products that can help improve their nutrition and overall health, these concerns may drive demand for breads and pastas made from resistant starch varieties of grains.

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