In the Press

Ancient Wheat Variety Could Ease Gluten Sensitivity


Dive Brief:

Kamut International claims eating products made from the ancient khorasan wheat variety instead of modern wheat could ease symptoms of gluten sensitivity, and has funded a pilot study to back up its claims, Food Navigator reports.

About 1.7 million Americans suffer from celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, the protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt. But another million people in the U.S. avoid gluten without a celiac diagnosis, and Kamut International suggests modern wheat could contribute to chronic conditions like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The company funded a recently published clinical trial that found significant differences in blood markers between 20 people who ate products made with khorasan wheat over three months and 20 participants who ate products made with modern wheat. The khorasan wheat group had a 6% improvement in total cholesterol, as well as improvements in enzymes associated with liver health.

Dive Insight:

Kamut International’s khorasan wheat is not the first ancient variety to be touted as a potential alternative for those with gluten sensitivity. Germany-based GoodMills Innovation made a similar claim when it revealed its 2ab Wheat last year, a new variety developed from ancient wheat. Neither ingredient is suitable for those with celiac disease, who must completely avoid gluten.

While the gluten-free market continues to grow and has been projected to be worth $5.28 million by 2022, much of that growth is likely to come from the large number of consumers who avoid gluten for reasons other than celiac disease. About 5 to 10% of Americans may suffer from some kind of gluten sensitivity, compared to about 0.58% with celiac disease, so there is potentially a wide consumer base that could benefit from such ancient grains.

In the United States, wheat is the country’s staple grain, contributing about a quarter of the calories in an average American diet. But consumers are increasingly interested in alternatives to standard wheat flour, and manufacturers have been experimenting with pulse flours, ancient grainsand seeds.

The popularity of whole grains in general has continued to rise. Increased consumption includes both gluten free ancient grains, like quinoa and others, as well as gluten-containing grains, such as barley, rye and triticale. Even consumers who are not gluten sensitive are attracted to ancient grain ingredients because of their nutritional profile and the variety they add to foods in terms of texture and taste.

Recommended Reading:
Food NavigatorAll wheat is not created equal: A case for ancient khorasan wheat