Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Optimisation of barley and buckwheat processing for sustainable use in high quality functional foods

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.03.01  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production  Agricultural plants 

Code Science Field
B420  Biomedical sciences  Nutrition 

Code Science Field
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
buckwheat, barley, cereals, co-products, by-products, waste, quality, nutrition, products
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (20)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  15581  PhD Blaž Cigić  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  349 
2.  05222  PhD Alenka Gaberščik  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  819 
3.  15122  PhD Mateja Germ  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  566 
4.  34326  PhD Aleksandra Golob  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  100 
5.  21242  PhD Tine Grebenc  Plant production  Researcher  2016 - 2019  457 
6.  39476  Maša Hribar  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2017 - 2019  47 
7.  07127  PhD Hojka Kraigher  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  1,299 
8.  00950  PhD Ivan Kreft  Plant production  Principal Researcher  2016 - 2019  892 
9.  22463  PhD Anita Kušar  Plant production  Researcher  2016 - 2019  102 
10.  36048  PhD Živa Lavriša  Public health (occupational safety)  Junior researcher  2016 - 2019  43 
11.  11595  PhD Tomislav Levanič  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2018 - 2019  597 
12.  36493  PhD Krista Miklavec  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2016 - 2018  20 
13.  24268  PhD Tanja Mrak  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  118 
14.  50408  PhD Urška Pivk Kupirovič  Interdisciplinary research  Researcher  2018 - 2019  23 
15.  24300  PhD Igor Pravst  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2016 - 2019  282 
16.  12013  PhD Marjana Regvar  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  524 
17.  32771  PhD Ines Štraus  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  51 
18.  21623  PhD Katarina Vogel Mikuš  Biology  Researcher  2016 - 2019  584 
19.  30892  PhD Saša Zavadlav  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Researcher  2016 - 2017  50 
20.  24278  PhD Katja Žmitek  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2016 - 2019  158 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  0404  Slovenian Forestry Institute  Ljubljana  5051673000  10,964 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  64,490 
3.  3018  NUTRITION INSTITUTE  Ljubljana  3609081  455 
Chalenge: In Slovenia and in Europe it is a problem that in the processing of cereals and non-cereal grain for conventional or functional food products, large quantities of by-products end up as animal feed or even waste. In food processing industries that generate voluminous by-products and wastes, valorisation can help facilitate the sustainable use of available natural resources, and offset growing environmental and food security problems. Furthermore, there is a series of underexploited opportunities for use of buckwheat and barley fractions to increase nutritional and overall quality of foods. To communicate nutritional and/or health benefits to consumers, the effects need to be sufficiently substantiated scientifically.   Project goals: 1) To develop state-of-the-art processing techniques for common and Tartary buckwheat and barley that will enable the production of attractive functional ingredients (rich in flavonoids, peptides and quality protein, fibre, etc.), with special attention to optimal utilisation of grain, including the utilisation of by-products. 2) To exploit the use of such functional ingredients for production of high quality food products, which need to be attractive to consumers.   A new research and technological approach is suggested:   Grain processing techniques: Novel milling and particle separation techniques to produce materials and by-products, and the spectra of possible products that could be derived from them. Grain fractions will be minced by disc mills and a combination of diverse milling techniques. Afterwards air flow separation will separate particles into fractions with diverse chemical composition.   Use of functional ingredients in foods: Diverse uses of grain fractions will be exploited. One way of preparing bread involves sourdough fermentation, which can be accompanied by the formation of flavour compounds such as lactic and acetic acid, which have an impact on dough processing and preparing of sourdough bread. Cereals can be processed by sourdough fermentation into foods suitable for consumption. The hydrolysis of proteins and possibly starch during sourdough fermentation has an impact on elasticity observed in the sourdough. Sourdough lactic acid bacteria were shown to have the capacity to release peptides with antioxidant activity through the proteolysis of cereal proteins. The combined effects of sourdough fermentation and the baking process on the flavonoid concentration and antioxidant properties of sourdough, bread dough, and sourdough bread have not yet been studied. The use of buckwheat and barley in bread and other foods contributes to the reduction of the rise in blood glucose after a meal; however, it is not clear under which conditions such an effect is sufficient to the extent that its communication would be relevant for the consumer. For example, strict food regulations in the EU (Reg. EU 1924/2006) currently limit such a barley-related claim to foods that contain at least 4 g of beta-glucans from barley for each 30 g of available carbohydrates. Meeting such conditions in products that would be acceptable for consumers is currently not possible. It is therefore very important to investigate, whether lowering the glycaemic response can also be observed in different conditions.   The work related to buckwheat and barley is expected to result in a new segment of high quality products with added value: these will be offered to the global market and help the company grow and compete more successfully. In this way the project will also support the Slovenian economy. Furthermore, development of high quality foods is important for society and will support public health, both nationally and globally.   Expected results are also highly innovative from a scientific point of view and will result in publication in international journals with a high impact factor, just as many papers were published in the past by members of the current research team.
Significance for science
Novelty: Up to now no research on wide use of Tartary buckwheat for functional food has been published. Similarly, research on barley is also very limited. Such approach is sustainable as it makes possible to use this nutrient rich crop plant for special food products. The use of Tartary buckwheat is a new approach towards production of functional food. Knowledge on nutritional value of individual milling fraction of common buckwheat and barley, obtained by modern milling and separation methods, is limmited, the project will broaden this knowledge.   Importance for scientific development: We will establish the growing and proceeding of studied plants material, which is the most feasible and environment friendly. We will also point out the content and concentrations of bioactive substances from the point of view of human food, especially in bread and other food items. In Tartary buckwheat we will examine if flavonoids content have any connection with the content of other nutritionally relevant metabolites, tannins and fagopyrin. In barley interrelation of grain botanical structures and beta-glucans concentration will be studied. The project represents a comprehensive evaluation of different agricultural practices regarding plant material quality, carbon sequestration and yield and crop quality. Similar integrative studies investigating the complex effects are rare. In this respect our results will present new insight and important new information for scientific community. The project is essential for the further scientific development in the field of plant production, as it is not yet known in details impact of milling procedure, and its importance for novel functional food products. It is expected that the results of the project will have important impact to further development of methods and ideas.
Significance for the country
We expect improvement in the quality of buckwheat and barley crop plants, and improved milling procedure to obtain products of better nutritional quality. It is of special importance for people suffering disease, and for other special groups of the population. We expect that among the results there will also be novel functional food products rich in flavonoids and othert antioxidants, based on Slovenian traditional crops. It is important to develop new products for small and medium-sized enterprises in Slovenia, and to give to people the possibility to purchase important functional food products from domestic crops that contain deficient nutrients at moderate cost.   While the cholesterol lowering effects of barley ß-glucans are now well established (a disease risk health claim is possible in meals containing at least 1g of this fibre per portion; the health claim was approved on the basis of the application by the company Valens Int. d.o.o, a co-funder of the proposed project – see EFSA, 2011a) and successfully used for production of functional foods, the management of the glycaemic response is another very interesting property of this dietary fibre, which is much less investigated. Research on this topic is thus also very important for the food industry. Existing evidence was strong enough to enable approval of the health claim that consumption of ß-glucans as part of a meal contributes to the reduction of the blood glucose rise after that meal, but such a claim may be used only for food which contains at least 4 g of ß-glucans for each 30 g of available carbohydrates in a quantified portion as part of the meal (EFSA 2011b). Using existing techniques the food industry cannot successfully produce functional foods that would meet such conditions, indicating that further research is needed. On the one hand it should be investigated if lower concentrations of high quality ß-glucans (less than 4 g per 30 g of carbohydrates) would also provide glycaemic health benefits, while on the other new technologies would need to be developed to produce barley fractions with improved content of high quality ß-glucans. Additionally, the use of such fractions in final products should be investigated to enable production of functional foods which will be also acceptable for consumers.   The development and implementation of functional food products are among priorities of further development both in Slovenia and in the EU.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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