Transforming Agriculture, Perennially

Scientific Publications

Nutritional Quality of Early-Generation Kernza Perennial Grain

Author: Evan B. Craine & Lee R. DeHaan

Publication: Agriculture

A nutritional study on early-generation grain from the Kernza breeding program documents the nutritional quality of the perennial grain, with data underscoring its macronutrient composition, vitamin and mineral content, and more.


Grain from improved varieties of the perennial grass Thinopyrum intermedium (Host) Barkworth & D.R. Dewey is marketed under the trade name Kernza (common name intermediate wheatgrass, IWG). While a growing body of evidence is available on the nutritional quality of Kernza, gaps exist for components such vitamins and minerals and protein quality. Therefore, we performed two studies on early-generation breeding program material, characterizing nutritional quality by quantifying macronutrients, sugars, dietary fiber, amino acid profiles, fat composition, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, antioxidants, and antioxidant activity. The IWG studied frequently had concentrations significantly different from the reference values for whole wheat flour. For example, IWG had 50% higher protein, 129% higher dietary fiber, and 65% higher ash content than reference whole wheat flour. Calcium and selenium were 267% and 492% higher, respectively, in IWG than whole wheat flour. Riboflavin and folate were 43% and 447% higher, respectively, and niacin 74% lower in IWG versus whole wheat flour. We identified lysine as the limiting amino acid, although its concentration was 33% greater in IWG than in whole wheat flour. These results support potential benefits of Kernza for human nutrition. This work supports ongoing studies to further characterize and evaluate nutritional quality during the domestication and breeding process.




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