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Checkbiotech: Large EU project has been launched: Improving health by exploiting the whole grain
Posted by: Prof. Dr. M. Raupp (IP Logged)
Date: August 31, 2005 07:52AM ; ;

Novel cereal foods can be a meaningful tool in the fight against metabolic
syndrome related diseases. Prof. Kaisa Poutanen from VTT Technical Research
Centre of Finland is coordinating the HEALTHGRAIN Integrated Project with 43
partners from 15 European countries. The aim is to produce health-promoting
cereal foods and ingredients of a high quality, August 2005.

Studies have proven over the years that diets rich in whole grain foods
offer protection from many chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and
cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, bread is currently mostly baked from
refined flour, devoid of the nutrients and protective factors present in
outer layers of the grains.

The 5-year HEALTHGRAIN project will carry out a multidisciplinary study of
the variation, process-induced changes and human metabolism of bioactive
compounds in the major European bread grains of wheat and rye. The target
bioactive compounds are vitamins (folate, tocols, choline, etc.),
phytochemicals (lignans, sterols, alkylresorcinols, phenolic acids) and
indigestible carbohydrates. Cereal food structure will be studied in
relation to digestibility. The project also aims to reveal the physiological
mechanisms underlying the significance of bioactive compounds in the
prevention of metabolic syndrome and related diseases. The total budget for
the project is 16 million euros.

Consumer studies will be carried out in order to understand consumer
expectations of healthy cereal foods. New sources of nutritionally enhanced
grain will be identified and generated by experts in plant biotechnology,
creating a toolbox of "omics" technologies for breeding. New fractionation
and bioprocessing methods for the outer parts of grain kernels will be
developed, aiming at products that will also appeal to European consumers
sensory-wise. The bioavailability of the bioactive compounds will be
determined, and their role together with the glycemic response of food in
reducing metabolic risk factors will be studied.

Besides coordinating the project, VTT is responsible for developing novel
processing technologies using enzymes and starter cultures, studying the
effects of structural features on cereal food digestibility, and studying
consumer expectations and perceptions of health claims connected to cereal

For dissemination, a comprehensive technology transfer and dissemination
programme has been developed. Publications will be written, conferences,
workshops and training courses will be arranged. A web site is also under
construction ( ). For interactive communication,
the project has established an Industrial Platform and Nutrition Information
Network. The Industrial Platform of already 25 companies ensures effective
communication between the HEALTHGRAIN project and actors in the cereal food


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