Eating bread made with ancient grains could benefit heart health, study shows

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

The findings in the study highlight that ancient grain varieties could be useful in improving the profile of important biomarkers in consumers.
The findings in the study highlight that ancient grain varieties could be useful in improving the profile of important biomarkers in consumers.
Eating bread with ancient grains can significantly reduce total cholesterol and blood glucose levels, according to a recent randomized, double-blinded crossover trial.

The study, named “Cardiovascular benefits from ancient grain bread consumption”,​ was published last month in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

Aimed at evaluating the effect of a replacement diet with bread derived from ancient grain varieties versus modern grain variety on cardiovascular risk profile, the trial comprised 45 clinically healthy subjects.

Study method

All study participants - 32 men and 13 women with a median age of around 50 - were interviewed and examined using standardized methods between January and July 2013. Information, including their personal medical history and lifestyle habits, were obtained at the time of the interview.

The study involved three different interventions:

  • First intervention (started January 2013): Participants were randomly assigned to receive bread obtained from the ancient variety Verna, obtained from either organic or conventional cultivation, respectively
  • Second intervention (started May 2013): All participants were permitted to eat the modern variety Blasco
  • Third intervention (from June 2013): Participants in both groups were assigned to consume the two remaining ancient varieties Gentil Rosso and Autonomia B, both cultivated under conventional agriculture.

Breeding strategies

Researchers concluded from the study results that consuming bread with ancient grains had beneficially effects on the cardiovascular biomarkers of the subjects in the study. No significant differences during the phase with the modern grains were reported. 

In addition, a significant increase in circulating endothelial progenitor cells were also reported after consumption of products made from the ancient Verna variety.

Researchers pointed out that, “breeding strategies have been predominantly aimed at improving the yield production of wheat at the expense of the nutritional profile”​ in the past decades.

“This led to the progressive abandonment of the ancient varieties, which are not suitable for the high-input conventional cultivation system.”

The findings in the study highlight that ancient grain varieties could be useful in improving the profile of important biomarkers in consumers, thereby possibly stimulating producers to use and implement these [ancient grain] varieties in their current breeding strategies, researchers suggested.

This site previously reported the use of ancient grains in new products, especially in the bakery category​, continues to grow in Western Europe. Data also shows that new US food launches containing ancient grains or seeds have nearly tripled from 2008 to 2014.

 

Source: International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition

Published online ahead of print, DOI: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1216528

Cardiovascular benefits from ancient grain bread consumption: findings from a double-blinded randomized crossover intervention trial​”

Authors: Alice Sereni, Francesca Cesari, Anna Maria Gori, Niccolo Maggini, Rossella Marcucci, Alessandro Casini and Francesco Sofi. (Department of Experiemtnal and Clinical Medicine at the University of Florence in Italy)

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