The HEALTHGRAIN Integrated Project aims to improve the well-being and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome related diseases in Europe by increasing the intake of protective compounds in whole grains or their fractions. The aim is to produce health promoting and safe cereal foods and ingredients of high eating quality. A whole grain diet is increasingly demonstrated to be protective against development of diet related disorders such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
HEALTHGRAIN will carry out an integrated, multidisciplinary effort to establish the variation, process-induced changes and human metabolism of bioactive compounds in the major European bread grains, and to reveal the physiological mechanisms underlying their significance in prevention of metabolic syndrome and related diseases.
The target bioactive compounds are vitamins (folate, tocols,choline etc.), phytochemicals (lignans, sterols, alkylresorcinols, phenolic acids) and indigestible carbohydrates. Also other product characteristics that may add to the metabolic benefits of whole grain products are promoted.
The research is carried out in five research modules:
<ul> <LI> Consumer research: Studies in four European countries are made to understand consumer expectations of healthy cereal foods, and to give basis for dissemination practises.
<LI> Grain improvement and biotechnology toolkit: Plant biotechnology, including "omics technologies", is used to identify and generate new sources of nutritionally enhanced grain and to provide a "biotechnology toolkit" for plant breeding programmes.
<LI> Technology and processing: New fractionation and bio processing methods are developed to allow for incorporation of more of the whole grains and their outer parts in consumer foods with sensory quality appealing to European consumers.
<LI> Nutrition and metabolism: Bioavailability of bioactive compounds is determined, and their role as well as that of glycemic properties of cereal foods.
</ul> For more information about this project, please visit the <a href="http://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/food_quality/projects/049_en.ht…; target="_blank">European Commission Food Quality and Safety in Europe</a> Web site.