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Whole Grain Benefits

Orphan crop status rises to ‘super grain’

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Grains such as teff, millet and sorghum are mostly grown locally in certain African countries. Photo credit: Giulio Napolitano, Shutterstock

Cereal grains have been the main component of the human diet for millennia, with rice, wheat and corn being the most commonly consumed cereals worldwide. However, as the world population continues to grow, underutilized grain crops could help meet nutritional needs. Researchers are now investigating how African grain crops could be grown more effectively and spread more widely as a source of food.

Grains such as teff, millet and sorghum are mostly grown and consumed locally in certain African countries. However, there is interest in growing them in Europe and elsewhere as new sources of grain as they are very nutritious.

Teff grains, for example, are high in calcium, protein, and iron, and are almost five times higher than wheat or any other grain. This could be particularly beneficial in preventing iron deficiency anemia, which is common in women. They also contain carbohydrates that are slowly digested, which is great for people with diabetes to help maintain low blood sugar levels. In addition, most African cereals are gluten-free, so they can be consumed by people with celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome. “There are so many health and nutritional benefits,” said Dr. Aiswarya Girija, Research Associate at Aberystwyth University in Wales, UK.

In addition, many of these African grain crops can adapt to extreme weather conditions due to climate change. Yields of staple foods such as wheat, rice and corn are already affected by rising temperatures and are expected to continue to decline. Corn crops are expected to be hardest hit, where yields could decrease by as much as 7.4%. Traditional African crops could therefore become new alternatives to supplement this loss. “If you want to grow teff in a harsh environment like a drought-prone area, it will grow well,” said Dr. Girija. “It is also resistant to waterlogging.”

However, the cultivation of African grains needs to be improved if they are to be grown more widely. Wheat and corn, for example, are increasingly being grown by African farmers because they can obtain genetically engineered pest-resistant varieties, which saves pesticide costs. In addition, traditional African grain crops often produce low yields, mainly because they were not bred to improve productivity. “In Africa there has been a concern that traditional crops will be lost as farmers increasingly grow wheat and corn,” said Dr. Raija Lantto, researcher at the VTT Technical Research Center of Finland in Espoo.

Better farming practices could help. As part of the InnoFoodAfrica project, Dr. Lantto and her colleagues partnered with smallholders in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda to strengthen their farming skills, with an emphasis on educating women and youth. For example, they are studying how practices can be improved to increase crop productivity and new pest control strategies.

Research is also needed to better understand how to perfect the cultivation. Dr. Girija and her colleagues are working on Teff yields as part of the SUPERTEFF project and are investigating how these can be improved. One of the main problems is that teff plants that are long and slender often bend as they grow by kinking the stems or roots known as bearings. This usually happens before the grains are fully formed and therefore has an impact on yields. “It prevents the seeds from ripening and eventually results in poor semen quality,” said Dr. Girija.

The team will use CRISPR gene editing technology to try to address the problem. They target specific genes in the teff plant that are related to housing and deactivate them using a technique called knockout. You want to investigate whether this will affect storage or make the plant more resilient. “It’s quite a challenge because not a lot of genetic transformation experiments have been done with teff,” said Dr. Girija.

Another goal of the project is to screen the Teff genome to identify varieties with beneficial traits. Using metabolome and genome sequencing approaches, Dr. Girija and her colleagues try to filter out traits that are associated with a higher nutritional value or that can help the plant, for example, to cope with environmental stress. This will help find varieties that are best suited for breeding programs aimed at improving the quality of teff, which does not need to be done yet. “We are at the beginning of a long-term program that is developing new varieties and new approaches that we will roll out across Europe and North Africa,” said Prof. Luis Mur, Research Director for Biology and Health at Aberystwyth University and a member of the project team.

So far, Dr. Girija and her colleagues are studying the mechanisms that enable teff to tolerate drought. They performed experiments on 11 different strains of Teff using metabolomic techniques that identified and quantified the amounts of various small molecules and chemicals in plant tissues. Their results showed that different strains of teff have different amounts of flavonoids – metabolites that are known to help plants protect themselves against various stresses such as pathogens or drought. They were able to identify a strain that was able to maintain the same levels of flavonoid under severe drought conditions. The results of this study could help select tolerant varieties that can be grown in countries with extreme environmental conditions, says Dr. Girija.

In addition to improving crops, another challenge will be introducing African grain into people’s diet. InnoFoodAfrica has set itself the goal of developing prototypes of new foods that contain traditional crops such as finger millet, sorghum, teff, broad bean and amaranth. “Meals have to be ready-to-eat or easy to prepare, and they have to be affordable,” said Dr. Lantto.

So far, members of the team based in Africa have developed various flours from the leaves and grains of these plants. The flours were then shipped to Europe for analysis using advanced technologies, for example to determine their nutritional value. The team aims to show that these plants can be converted into other forms while maintaining their high nutritional value. The project partners have already developed foods such as whole wheat pasta, baked goods and crackers from the flours.

Dr. Lantto and her colleagues are also interested in finding uses for all parts of these plants. Seed coats, leaves and straw, for example, are currently thrown away or fed to animals. But they could be made into bio-based plastics that can be used as food packaging. “The food that people grow in the fields can then be better protected from the weather and pests and stored more easily,” says Dr. Lantto. “So this project also has a circular economy dimension.”

The team is working to collect more data on the unused parts of these plants. You need to analyze the content to confirm whether it is suitable for making bio-based packaging, for example. In addition, they plan to quantify the amount of waste material in different locations to assess whether there is enough of it for commercialization. “That knowledge doesn’t exist at the moment,” said Dr. Lantto.

Dr. Lantto hopes that InnoFoodAfrica’s food knowledge will help both European and African entrepreneurs develop new edible products that can be sold internationally. The team plans to create a virtual platform where they can share what they have learned during the project.

Introducing new nutritious foods, especially in urban areas of Africa, could help. Obesity and unhealthy eating habits are a growing problem on the continent as people often consume a lot of fast foods that are high in fat and sugar. “We have to make sure that the knowledge is carried forward after the project,” said Dr. Lantto. “When Africans can keep and multiply these traditional crops in their cultivation [yields] it could help to resolve the deteriorating nutritional situation. ”

Little Millet’s Great Potential Provided by Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine

citation: The status of the orphaned harvest rises to “super grain” (2021, August 16), accessed on August 16, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-orphan-crop-status-super-grain. html

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Whole Grain Benefits

Which diet is the healthiest? One eating hack can boost more than your body

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Scientists, nutritionists, and social media influencers have made their careers researching what—exactly—makes the best diet. In recent years, the Paleo diet, which attempts to replicate what our ancient ancestors were said to have eaten, has been pitted against the keto diet (essentially a version of the Atkins diet) and intermittent fasting (which insists there isn’t any diet is) fought for supremacy. But there’s one diet that almost all scientists agree is healthy for your body, your brain — and maybe even the planet.

Many nutritionists have long emphasized that a balanced diet consisting primarily of vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, legumes and fruits is ideal for a healthy adult body and has numerous health benefits.

In other words: a plant-based diet. As it turns out, this type of diet is not only good for human health — it can also save the planet from the climate crisis.

In a recent study published in the journal Nature, scientists show how people in higher-income countries could remove enough carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to keep the global temperature from rising above 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius by switching to a plant-based diet change.

Two degrees is the upper warming limit set by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel to contain the worst effects of the climate crisis.

Specifically, researchers cite the EAT-Lancet diet as the healthiest diet for you and the planet. Here’s what you need to know.

What is the EAT Lancet Diet?

An infographic summarizing the plant-based diet recommended by the EAT-Lancet Commission. The diet is high in vegetables and low in meat.

The world population is expected to grow to 10 billion people over the course of the 21st century. Feeding this growing population in a way that is sustainable for the planet will be a challenge.

The EAT-LANCET Commission brought together leading scientists to determine the best “Planetary Health” diet – a diet to promote human health and protect the sustainability of the environment in line with the UN’s climate goals. (You can read the full report here.)

People in higher-income countries make up just 17 percent of the world’s population, but if they switch to a plant-based diet, we could eliminate the equivalent of “about 14 years of current global agricultural emissions,” the researchers say.

According to the Commission, the two main components a meal that follows the guidelines of the Planetary Health Diet:

  1. Half a plate of vegetables and fruit.
  2. Half a plate with a mix of “whole grains, plant-based protein sources, unsaturated vegetable oils, and (optionally) modest amounts of animal-based protein sources.”

The number of calories, on the other hand, would depend on the needs of the person.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of what a person can eat on an average day as part of the planetary health diet:

  • Whole grains (rice, wheat, corn, etc.): 232 grams or 811 calories
  • Starchy vegetables (potatoes and cassava): 39 calories
  • Fruit: 200 grams or 78 calories
  • Dairy: 250 grams or 153 calories
  • Protein: Can vary from 14 to 50 grams (30 to 291 calories) depending on whether it is animal protein (ie beef, lamb, poultry, fish, eggs) or plant protein (legumes and nuts).
  • Added Fats: Unsaturated Oils (40 grams or 354 calories) or Saturated Oils (11.8 grams or 96 calories)
  • Added Sugar: 31 grams or 120 calories

The commission’s scientists conclude that a plant-based diet is a “win-win” for the earth and humanity, stating: “A diet high in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods brings both improved health and environmental benefits.”

Why is the planetary health diet good for the earth?

If people in high-income countries switch to a plant-based diet and we convert farmland to natural vegetation, we can make a big contribution to curbing global warming, researchers find.Getty

Food systems in rich countries contribute a lot to the climate crisis. As the researchers report in the latest Nature study, the global food system emits 13.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, or about 26 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Animal production, along with land use, “constitutes the majority of these emissions.”

Per capita meat consumption in richer countries is six times higher than in lower-income countries. Greenhouse gas emissions from meat consumption are also significantly higher: animal-based products account for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from food systems in richer countries, but only 22 percent in lower-middle-income countries.

“Hence, dietary changes in high-income countries could have the potential to significantly reduce agricultural emissions around the world,” the researchers write.

If people in higher-income countries transition to the plant-based diets outlined here and return farmland of animal origin to natural vegetation, researchers say we can reduce annual agricultural greenhouse gas emissions from those countries by 61.5 percent and save up to 98.3 gigatons carbon dioxide in the soil.

Besides saving the planet, EAT-Lancet is also crucially good for human health, which can help people in wealthier countries adapt to a plant-based diet.

Why is the planetary health diet good for humans?

Eating a plant-based diet has numerous benefits, from reducing obesity to improving heart health. Getty

The food best suited to cooling down a warming planet is also extraordinarily good for human health.

“Healthy plant-based eating should be recommended as an environmentally responsible dietary option for improved cardiovascular health,” researchers write in a separate 2018 report.

Numerous studies shed light on how plant-based eating can improve or reduce the risk of a variety of health conditions, including:

“Improving plant-based diet quality over a 12-year period was associated with a reduced risk of total and [cardiovascular disease] mortality, while increased consumption of an unhealthy plant-based diet is associated with a higher risk of total and [cardiovascular disease] mortality,” researchers write in another 2019 study.

Animal proteins provide essential nutrients like iron and zinc. So if you choose to eat a plant-based diet, it’s important to get enough plant-based protein from other sources to make up for the loss.

Iron-rich foods include legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grain breads – all of which are included on the ideal plate, according to EAT-Lancet guidelines.

For this reason, following a diet with specific guidelines for consumption — like the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health Diet — can ensure you’re still getting essential nutrients and protein despite following a plant-based diet.

The reverse analysis – Whether you’re trying to convince a friend to cut down on his meat intake or working to include more leafy greens in your own diet, it’s helpful to remember the connections between the planet and our own bodies.

After all, skipping a cheeseburger because of global warming might seem like an abstraction, but when you consider that your heart health is at stake, you’re more likely to choose a healthier, plant-based option that also has tremendous benefits for the planet.

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Whole Grain Benefits

Fiber offers many health benefits

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Conversations and advice about nutritional components seem to be in the news all the time. Low carb here, high protein there. But one thing that doesn’t get nearly the attention it should is fiber.

When you learn about all the benefits of getting enough fiber, you’re wondering why we’re not talking about it more. According to the National Institutes of Health, fiber is found in the plants you eat, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It is sometimes referred to as bulk or roughage.

Some people probably don’t talk much about fiber because we primarily associate it with normalizing bowel movements and relieving constipation. However, there are many other health benefits of fiber as well. Some studies suggest that a high-fiber diet may also help you lose weight and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

There are two forms of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Both are good for us for different reasons. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that binds to fats. This helps lower blood cholesterol levels, especially LDL or bad cholesterol. Soluble fiber also slows the absorption of glucose, which may help people with diabetes. Insoluble fiber is also helpful as it bulks up the stool and helps it move through the body more efficiently.

In general, whole fruits, legumes, and vegetables are good sources of both types of fiber. Take an apple for example; The skin consists of insoluble fiber and the fleshy part contains soluble fiber.

The latest USDA dietary guidelines recommend women eat at least 21 to 25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams per day. Our American average is only about 10 to 15 grams per day. In practice, you could get 27 grams of fiber by eating ½ cup chopped vegetables (4g fiber), 1 medium whole fruit with peel (4g fiber), 2 slices of 100% whole wheat bread (6g fiber), ½ cup eat black beans (8 g fiber) and ¾ oatmeal (5 g fiber).

Dan Remley, our OSU Extension Food, Nutrition and Wellness field specialist, has developed a great resource called Fiber Fills You Up, Fills your Wallet and Fuels Your Health. In it, Remley says, “High-fiber meals are lower in calories, affordable, and can help your family feel full after a meal.”

He has a few fiber tips to help you gradually add more fiber to your day:

  • Eat oatmeal several times a week.
  • For breakfast, choose a high-fiber breakfast cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving. Choose grains with “whole grain,” “bran,” or “fiber” in the name. Or add a few tablespoons of unprocessed wheat bran to your favorite cereal.
  • Serve a meatless dinner once a week. Replace meat with beans.
  • Eat two servings of vegetables per meal.
  • Leave the skin on fruits and vegetables.
  • Add oatmeal to cookies.
  • Snack on nuts, dried fruits and popcorn.
  • Choose chips or crackers with at least 2 grams of fiber per serving.

On the other hand, there are some processed foods with added fiber sources. In some cases, this can be a helpful way to add more fiber to your diet. Be aware that these products are high in calories and may add more sugar or sodium than you think. Your best bet is to eat as many whole fruits and whole grains as possible rather than these formulated products.

Today I leave you with this quote from Desmond Tutu: “Do your little good where you are; It’s those little bits of good that overwhelm the world.”

Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and can be reached at 740-622-2265.

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Whole Grain Benefits

The case for making whole-wheat pizza dough

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The Perfect Loaf is a column by Maurizio Leo-turned-bread expert (and resident bread baker of Food52). Maurizio is here to show us anything that’s naturally leavened, enriched, yeasted, whatever – basically any vehicle to smear a lot of butter. Today he talks about the pros and cons of whole wheat pizza dough.

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The longer I bake bread and bake pizza, the more I like increasing the whole grain content of the dough. Sure, there’s an undeniable charm that comes with the classic Italian way: a 00-flour-based pizza baked at a super-high temperature, resulting in an extremely soft texture, high rise, and an open, airy crust . And while my sourdough bread almost always includes a whole grain component, lately I’ve been pushing the whole grains into my naturally leavened pizza dough as well. Swapping out some white flour is an easy way to take flavor to the next level: the addition of bran and germ mixed into the batter brings deeper grain flavors (read: nutty, earthy, and hints of minerality) and in Combined with long natural fermentation you get a double whammy of flavor and nutrients.

The challenge, however, is that adding more whole grains to a recipe (pizza and bread alike) usually results in a sturdier end result. The increase in bran and germ in the dough begins to affect the dough structure, inhibiting that high rise and open, airy interior. But what these doughs lack in volume, they more than make up for in flavor.

Let’s look at how we can bring these flavor and nutritional benefits to a whole wheat sourdough pizza dough.

How much whole wheat flour should be in pizza?

To be honest, I don’t think you can go too far! I had pizza made from 100 percent whole wheat flour, and while it was a bit more squat, a bit chewy, and a lot heartier than a classic pizza, the flavor was great. Personally, I like to split the difference. Using half white flour (00 or all-purpose flour) and half whole wheat flour is the best of both worlds: nice rise from the white flour and added flavor from the whole grains, all in a dough that still stretches easily to make cakes .

Typically, with sourdough pizza, the more whole grains you have in the mix, the more sour or complex the final flavor profile. I think that’s partly why the longer I bake bread and cook pizza, the more I value adding whole grains to a mix – the depth of flavor is just unmistakable. For pizza, however, a 50:50 mix of whole wheat and white flour means extra acidity, but not too much. It makes a wonderful addition to any toppings you might add and will brighten up the flavor of any cheese, meat or veg you throw on your pizza.

What other flour can I use?

In addition to pure whole wheat flour, using another sifted variety like Type 85 (which falls somewhere between whole wheat and white flour) is also a good option. This flour contains more bran and germ than white flour, but it’s not as much that you get all the wheat berries as it is with 100 percent whole grain. What I like about Type 85, which can sometimes be described as a “high extractive” flour, is that it works and works very similarly to white flour, but there’s a big flavor boost from the fine bits of bran and germ that are still present in the flour . And there’s a wide range of these balanced flours too, from Type 80 all the way up to Type 110, which is much closer to whole grain than white – experiment to see which you prefer. White wholemeal flour, i.e. wholemeal flour made from white wheat berries, would also work here. It produces a milder flavor profile due to the reduction in tannins.

What mods do I need to increase whole grains even more?

When topping up the whole wheat flour in a recipe, you need to increase hydration since the flour contains more particles of bran and germ, which tend to absorb more water. Also, you need to watch the fermentation activity in the dough as whole wheat flour tends to increase fermentation activity due to the increased nutrients. I like to add my sourdough starter or levain portion to a batter in step with whole wheat flour increases. For example, if I wanted to make a 75 percent whole wheat pizza dough, I would reduce the 18 percent starter called for in a 50 percent whole wheat dough to 15 percent.

How can I make my dough softer?

One thought I had in mind when developing my whole wheat sourdough pizza dough was to add a small percentage of extra virgin olive oil to the dough. Some pizza enthusiasts may balk at the idea of ​​a free-form pizza, but adding fat to a dough helps create tenderness. We must also take into account the fact that we are preparing this pizza in a home oven, not in a professional pizza oven where it will still take a few minutes to fully bake; The added fat keeps the crust from drying out.

Adding a little olive oil — I use 1 to 2 percent of the total flour weight — brings just enough softness to offset the longer cooking time required in a home oven. In fact, I go this route with my sourdough pizza romana, which is baked on a sheet pan and results in a firm and crunchy, yet somewhat chewy and soft dough. With this recipe, however, I found the batter to be overcooked and soft enough for me, but if you’re looking for a little more tenderness, a drizzle of olive oil added during the batter mixing step is the answer

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