The University of Queensland researchers hope to deal with growing obesity and diabetes epidemics with the help of a new instrumentation that will determine how to produce food which is nutritional yet palatable.
Obesity is a major concern in Australia and poor eating habits are significant factors in obesity and diabetes epidemics.
"An important component of the problem is from changes in the starches in our food," UQ researcher Professor Bob Gilbert said.
"Starch supplies 50 percent of food energy in the modern Australian diet, and up to 90 percent in countries on Asian diets,' Prof Gilbert added.
"A way forward would be to see what factors in the starches in our diets correspond to healthy digestibility," he added.
Prof Gilbert added that uncovering which starches are good for us is not a simple task.
"Starch and non-starch polysaccharides, which are important for fibre, have amazingly complex structures which are very hard to characterise.
For example, the units in a single molecule of a component of starch, are like the branches on a very convoluted tree, and a given food sample is like a huge forest of trees of all different sizes and structures.,' he said.
"No other equipment can separate 'trees' of all sizes simultaneously, and at the same time measure quantities such as the weight, branching density and number of 'trees' of a given size."
"Another UQ finding will ensure that data produced by the new machine can be placed in a meaningful context,".
"The second breakthrough is in sophisticated new mathematical and experimental developments which enables us to make sense of a plethora of data."
"These new techniques, developed by the Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences at UQ, will provide the tools needed to produce foods which are both better for us nutritionally, and palatable to the consumer."