Do modern types of wheat have lower quality for human health?

Wheat is the major staple food in Western Europe and an important source of energy, protein, dietary fibre, minerals, B vitamins and phytochemicals. Plant breeders have been immensely successful in increasing yields to feed the growing global population. However, concerns have been expressed that the focus on increasing yield and processing quality has resulted in reduced contents of components that contribute to human health and increases in adverse reactions. We review the evidence for this, based largely on studies in our own laboratories of sets of wheats bred and grown between the 18th century and modern times. With the exception of decreased contents of mineral micronutrients, there is no clear evidence that intensive breeding has resulted in decreases in beneficial components or increases in proteins which trigger adverse responses. In fact, a recent study of historic and modern wheats from the UK showed increases in the contents of dietary fibre components and a decreased content of asparagine in white flour, indicating increased benefits for health.

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  • Name: Shewry, P. R., Type: Corresponding Author,
  • Name: Hassall, K. L., Type: Author,
  • Name: Grausgruber, H., Type: Author,
  • Name: Andersson, A. A. M, Type: Author,
  • Name: Lampi, A.‐M., Type: Author,
  • Name: Piironen, V., Type: Author,
  • Name: Rakszegi, M., Type: Author,
  • Name: Ward, J. L., Type: Author,
  • Name: Lovegrove, A., Type: Author,
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Article Is Open Access true
Article License Type cc-by
Article Version Type publishedVersion
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DFW Organisation RRes
DFW Work Package 2
DOI 10.1111/nbu.12461
Date Last Updated 2021-03-04T13:59:05.638289
Evidence open (via crossref license)
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Journal Is Open Access false
Open Access Status hybrid
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