Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have reported that the newly developed low-phytate breeding lines of wheat have been found to produce flour with 25% more magnesium than commercial varieties.
Edward J. Souza, research leader of the ARS Soft Wheat Quality Research Unit at Wooster, Ohio and colleagues Mary J. Guitteri and Karen M. Peterson at the University of Idaho Research and Extension Center in Aberdeen, selected the low-phytate lines from greenhouse tests.
Varying amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other minerals occur naturally in wheat kernels. Now, the flours made from these new wheat lines have more magnesium in them and also lower levels of phytic acid, which may increase the magnesium's bioavailablity, or capacity for uptake and use by people and animals.
The researchers evaluated the low-phytate plants in field trials for two years. Since the new wheat lines have a different distribution of essential minerals, with more in the inner germ than in the outer bran, the flour made from them tends to be more nutritional, whether it is refined or whole-wheat.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to development of osteoporosis and Type 2 diabetes, both of which are on the rise in US. Although magnesium deficiency is rare in North America, a high phytate content in grains and the loss of the magnesium in grains' outer coat (bran) that's removed during processing reduce the amount available in the diet.
Magnesium isn't usually added to refined flours, so breeding wheat varieties that could add magnesium to American diets would be a natural way to reinforce flours.