Oats and barley contain dietary fibres that have a positive effect on health. The beta glucan contained within the fibres has cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure-regulating properties and is thus an effective aid for the control of chronic diseases. As a result, more and more products that are supplemented with beta glucan are entering the market. However, beta glucan molecules are altered during the processing steps involved in food production. This alteration can result in a reduction in their beneficial effects on health. New processing techniques will be researched which preserve or even improve the properties of beta glucan.
The project will study the beta glucan found in cereals and its interactions with other molecules found in food and in the gastrointestinal system. It will identify the extent to which the beta glucan molecule is altered by the processing of food. An analysis of how these changes impact the health benefits that beta glucan exhibits in interactions with other molecules will then be conducted. The study will investigate the effects of different processing techniques for cereals: alongside traditional processes such as milling, heat treatment or extrusion, new advanced processing techniques such as nano-milling or chemical oxidation will be considered. The findings will assist in the development of food with optimised health-promoting properties.
The project will reveal how dietary fibres are modified and which processing techniques can be used to obtain food with optimised health-promoting properties. Application of the findings will allow the food industry to produce tailored food products that are particularly suited to people with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. This will help to reduce the constantly rising health costs associated with these chronic diseases.
Beta-glucan processing for improved molecular interactions