12 January - 20 June 2016

Eating bread made from ancient grains may have cardiovascular benefits

Findings from a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition have added to the increasing evidence that ancient grain varieties may help reduce risk factors for CVD.

Findings from a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition have added to the increasing evidence that ancient grain varieties may help reduce risk factors for CVD. 

Previous research has found that compared to modern grain varieties, which are heavily refined, ancient grain varieties have potential health-promoting properties due to them containing beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

In this randomised, crossover trial, Sofi et al. recruited 45 clinically healthy participants, aged between 25-75 years.  The study used three different interventions, each lasting for 8 weeks.  Participants were randomly assigned to receive bread obtained from the ancient variety Verna, which was either organic or conventionally cultivated, the modern variety Blasco, and two ancient varieties, Gentil Rosso and Autonomia B both conventionally cultivated. They were instructed to sustain from eating any other bread, and to maintain their usual diet and lifestyle habits.  Blood samples were taken at baseline and after each intervention.  The researchers analysed the blood for lipid variables, blood glucose, mineral, and serum electrolytes.  They also assessed Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPCs) and Circulating Progenitor Cells (CPCs).  CPCs are cells from bone marrow that contribute to vascular repair, regeneration and re-endothelialisation, therefore they provided protection against atherosclerosis.  Decreased levels are associated with hypertension, ageing, and hypercholesterolemia amongst other. 

The team found that participants had a significant reduction in blood glucose, total cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol (decreased by 5.6%, 3.1% and 3.9% respectively) after consuming the Verna bread.  Consumption also led to a significant increase in potassium and sodium. These results were the same for both organic and conventional cultivated Verna

In contrast the modern variety of wheat, was found to have no significant effects on biochemical parameters although consumption led to a decrease in the mineral content of the study populations, in particular for sodium, potassium, calcium, and iron. 

Sofi et al. report that during the third intervention, using the ancient grains, Gentil Rosso and Autonomia B, there was a significant reduction in total cholesterol (7.8%) and LDL- cholesterol (6.8%).  Gentil Rosso compared to Autonomia B showed a greater and significant reduction in total cholesterol and LDL- cholesterol.  The consumption of Autonomia B showed no significant change.

The researchers examined the beneficial role of the grains on cardiovascular risk profile of the healthy participants and found that Verna resulted in a significant increase in CPCs and CD whereas the modern variety showed a significant decrease for both.  There was no significant changes in EPC for all three interventions. 

In conclusion the authors reiterate their findings stating that the consumption of bread obtained from ancient varieties caused a significant reduction in some biochemical parameters which were not seen in the intervention period with the modern variety.  They note that their findings “highlight that ancient grain varieties could be useful in ameliorating the profile of important biomarkers in consumers.”

RSSL's Product and Ingredient Innovation Team, has considerable experience in re-formulating products to provide more healthy options. Using RSSL can help speed up your development cycle considerably.  For more information please contact Customer Services on +44 (0) 118 918 4076 or email enquiries@rssl.com

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