Sustainable and Healthy Food
- Grains and Health
Key Scientists John Carragher Colin Jenner Daryl Mares
The Grains and Health group in the Sustainable and Healthy Food unit is seeking to commercialise several varieties of wheat and barley developed through selective breeding processes that have beneficial nutritional properties.
Under the FOODplus commercialisation program, Dr John Carragher has grown several tonnes of high amylose wheat, allowing him to send sufficient material to food manufacturers in Australia and overseas for pilot-scale product development trials. These trials have confirmed the high fibre/resistant starch and low GI properties of a variety of food products, even when the grain/flour only replaces 30-40 per cent of the regular wheat grain/flour. The high amylose wheat is currently being grown at two sites (SA and NSW) to increase grain stocks and independently verify agronomic performance for potential commercialisation.
The Waite campus has a proud history of plant breeding and continues to develop new strains of wheat and barley that attract international attention. Traditionally, these grains have involved industries in the commodity sector (flour, beer) but the increasing interest in the health benefits of whole grains is creating new interests from food companies.
The unit is supporting a range of studies designed to examine the properties of products derived from Waite grains including noodles, bread, pastry and breakfast cereals. Naturally there is a strong connection with the relevant food manufacturers in these projects.
The range of Healthy Grains we are working on include:
We will continue working with national and international food businesses to demonstrate the functionality of nutritionally-beneficial grains in food products; improve their agronomic performance; and demonstrate that the slightly higher costs of procuring these varieties is justified and can be recouped by marketing healthier products to consumers.
- Healthy Meats
Key Scientists John Carragher Bob Hughes (SARDI)
The Healthy Meats group is working to increase the nutritional quality of Australian meats - a key target is to increase long chain omega-3 fat consumption without increasing demand for wild fish, many of which are harvested at unsustainable levels.
Our research works to better understand the enzyme pathways that agricultural animals and aquacultured fish use to metabolise various dietary fatty acids so that sustainably-produced plant-based omega-3 oils can be used in feed for animals to convert into the more nutritionally-beneficial long-chain omega-3 fats.
Under current commercial conditions, chickens are fed diets that are rich in omega-6 fats from grains which leads to meat and egg products that have low omega-3 fats. By changing the balance of vegetable oils in favour of sustainably-sourced plant-derived omega-3 fats in diets, we have shown that chickens can convert some of these into long-chain omega-3 fats that are more commonly associated with fish and fish oil. Using this approach, the level of long-chain omega-3 fats in chicken meat and eggs can be increased several fold and in the case of chicken meat, the long-chain omega-3 fat levels can be increased to two thirds of the level found in fish - but without any fishy flavour.
Additional funding has been obtained from DFEEST to determine the mechanisms underpinning the production efficiency improvements and to minimise the cost of omega-3 plant oil diets used to produce nutritionally-improved chicken products.