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Ancient Wheat Packs Antioxidant Punch

Bob Quinn, founder of Montana-based Kamut International, supplier of KAMUT® brand wheat that transitioned to completely organic supply in 1991, has been working to provide strong scientific backing of its ingredient’s antioxidant activity. “We knew that the KAMUT brand wheat from our research had higher levels of selenium, which is a strong antioxidant. So for many years we looked for ways to test how KAMUT brand wheat translated that property in to antioxidant availability,” said Bob Quinn, founder of the company. “We finally found a researcher at the University of Bologna who was interested to do the research to make the analysis. It was five years ago that we really started to look at antioxidants and their benefits, as we started comparing modern wheat to KAMUT ancient grain in regular bread, sourdough bread and pasta. The results of that study demonstrated a significant increase in antioxidant capacity from diets of ancient grain to modern grain. Additionally, when we compared the regular bread to sourdough bread we found even more significance with sour dough showing a big advantage.”

Further, Quinn expressed that consumers have become increasingly aware about bioavailability and that the body does not assimilate everything high in antioxidants. In the case of foods, Kamut has been working to demonstrate that all are not created equal, and man’s manipulation, at least in the case of wheat, has been a great disservice. “With only a focus on high yields and high-loaf volume in bread there has been an unanticipated, unintended and until recently, an undiscovered decrease in nutritive value and increase in sensitivity and difficulty of digestion,” he explained. “In other words, yield has gone up while the nutritional value has gone down, leading to people not being able to even eat it, increasing interest in wheat-free and gluten-free foods. There would not be a wheat-/gluten-free market if wheat it hadn’t been changed from its original form into something that people cannot even properly digest it. What needs to be understood is that there are still crops that have not been changed, that offer huge nutritional value and are easier to digest.”

The antioxidant capacity studies that Kamut has sponsored to date have all be in vivo studies so it can be demonstrated what is happening in living systems, according to Quinn. “We feel very strongly that this is a very important consideration and can provide more assurance to the consumer concerning what is happening than tests, which are performed in vitro and may or may not represent what is actually happening in living systems.”   

Most recently, Michael Angelo's has introduced a full line of frozen entrées that offer KAMUT Wheat pasta. “This is a whole new level of customer exposure for us as a large national manufacturing company is exchanging the modern wheat for ancient grain in their frozen high-quality entrées,” said Quinn. “We see the jump of Kamut brand grain products from a health food niche to taking it more mainstream.” 


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