Super spaghetti on the horizon

Spaghetti could be one of the new super foods of the future as Australian and Italian researchers join forces to develop a healthier type of wheat.

University of Adelaide researchers will be part of an international team investigating ways to increase the amount of healthy soluble fibre in durum wheat, which is commonly used to make pasta.

The researchers from the university's ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, in collaboration with the University of Bari, will explore how the growth of durum wheat affects levels of starch and dietary fibre.

Meanwhile, a second stage with the University of Molise will research the role of two major dietary fibre components - arabinoxylans and beta-glucans - in the quality of pasta and bread dough.

University of Adelaide Associate Professor Rachel Burton said the goal was to develop a wheat to potentially use in breeding programs that could improve the health benefits of pasta.

"In simple terms, 'super spaghetti' means that it contains a range of potential health benefits for the consumer, such as reducing the risk of heart disease or colorectal cancer," Associate Prof Burton said.

"Our research is aimed at achieving that, but we're also looking to improve the quality of pasta as well as its health properties," she said.

The research would also investigate the importance of vitamin E, an antioxidant, in wheat, Associate Prof Burton said.