High fructan barley

Thursday, 16 May, 2013

CSIRO has developed a barley variety high in fructans that will enable food producers to deliver wholegrain food with greater potential health benefits provided by one natural ingredient.

Fructans, a type of soluble dietary fibre, are globally popular because of their prebiotic properties and potential to reduce risk of serious diseases. The new high fructan barleys are suitable for use as flakes or wholegrain flour in a wide range of products including bread, cakes, biscuits, crackers, health-bars, ramen and breakfast cereals.

Dr Tony Bird, from CSIRO’s Food Futures Flagship, investigated the potential health benefits of high fructan barley, using research including preclinical studies.

“The fructan content isolated and extracted from barley was found to improve a range of indicators of gut health, including promoting the growth of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut of experimental rats,” said Dr Bird. “We also found that consumption of the fructan promotes retention of essential minerals, particularly calcium and magnesium, and may be of benefit in promoting bone health.”

Dr Bird said that this new CSIRO developed high fructan barley variety provides the already recognised benefits of whole grains, combined with the further benefits offered by enhanced levels of fructans. The new barley grain has up to 11 grams of fructans per 100 grams, whereas standard barleys contains less than 1 gram of fructans per 100 grams of grain.

Currently available commercial fructans are most commonly available as industrial extracts from chicory roots and included in foods as an additional ingredient. The high-fructan barley developed by CSIRO allows food and beverage manufacturers to provide their consumers with the benefits of fructans in a more natural single package.

CSIRO’s high-fructan barley variety has undergone extensive preclinical evaluation, the results of which demonstrate that its physiological properties and potential health benefits are comparable to leading commercial products. CSIRO welcomes interest from industry in commercialising this innovative technology.

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