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Big breakthrough in ancient, organic grains? Researchers make ‘great strides’ in health benefits of ancient wheat

By Stephen DANIELLS, 07-Feb-2013

Related topics: Ingredients, Ancient Grains, Ingredients

A new study that reports the potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of Khorasan wheat, an ancient grain, has been hailed as ‘making great strides in documenting the significant health benefits of ancient wheat’.

Consuming products formulated with the Kamut brand ancient wheat was associated with significant reductions in total cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as lower levels of key pro-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin (IL)-6, IL-12, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha.

“This study is the first human trial currently being performed to test the possible efficacy of Kamut products on cardiovascular biomarkers,” wrote researchers from the University of Florence in Italy.

‘Breakthrough’

Bob Quinn, founder of Kamut International, said: “This is a big breakthrough in learning more about ancient, organic grains and the health benefits they offer.

“Over the past four years we completed the first two phases of our four phase research project. In phase two of our project, we studied the effects of eating ancient and modern grain on rats. Now we have begun our third phase based on studies of healthy human subjects.

“We were excited to see the same results as we had seen in the rat studies.”

Caution

Writing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition , the Florence-based researchers note that there was significant variation in the results in the group of participants fed the ancient grain products, and that the “results promote research to fully elucidate the link between specific components of the wheat and their beneficial effects in reducing several cardiovascular risk markers”.

The study was also preliminary and included 22 healthy subjects.

“We are making great strides in documenting the significant health benefits of Kamut brand ancient wheat,” added Quinn. “This study just strengthens our ongoing commitment to research in order to understand the role that ancient wheat can play in human health and disease prevention.”

Study details

For the new study, the participants were randomly assigned to consume either Khorasan wheat products (bread, pasta and crackers) or control semi-whole-grain wheat products. This was followed by an eight week ‘washout’ period and then crossing over to the other intervention for a further eight weeks.

Results showed that consuming the Khorasan wheat products was associated with an reduction in total cholesterol of 4%, and of LDL cholesterol of 7.8%.

In addition, measures of oxidative stress were reduced by about 20%, said the researchers, as well as significant decreases in the pro-inflammatory biomarkers.

“Although the results are promising, the number of participants (22 in total) represents a limitation of this study,” wrote the researchers. “Further and larger studies need to be conducted before drawing any firm conclusion on the effects of such food products on human health.”

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi:10.1038/ejcn.2012.206
“Characterization of Khorasan wheat (Kamut) and impact of a replacement diet on cardiovascular risk factors: cross-over dietary intervention study”
Authors: F Sofi,  A Whittaker,  F Cesari,  A M Gori,  C Fiorillo, et al.