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Punjab Agricultural University develops new wheat variety to keep diabetes, obesity in check

The Ludhiana-based institution has been instrumental in India’s Green Revolution, contributing to surplus foodgrain production through the development of high-yielding crop varieties. In line with their ongoing efforts, the institution has recently bred a new wheat variety that possesses a high content of amylose starch. This particular variety is recognized for its potential health advantages, including the ability to lower the risks associated with type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.

The Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) in Ludhiana has shifted its research focus from “quantity” to “quality” and “food security” to “nutritional security.” As a key contributor to India’s Green Revolution, the institution has developed high-yielding crop varieties, leading to surplus foodgrain production. Recently, PAU has successfully bred a new wheat variety called PBW RS1, known for its high amylose starch content, which can reduce the risks of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.


Chapatis made from PBW RS1 wheat release glucose more slowly into the bloodstream, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Its high amylose and resistant starch content also promotes a feeling of fullness, allowing individuals to feel satisfied with fewer chapatis compared to regular wheat. While PBW RS1 has a similar total starch content to other wheat varieties, it contains a significantly higher proportion of resistant starch. It also exhibits a higher amylose content compared to other varieties. Foods made from PBW RS1 whole grain flour, such as chapatis and biscuits, have a lower glycemic index, contributing to reduced starch digestibility and potential benefits in combating obesity and type-2 diabetes.


The development of PBW RS1 involved a decade of research, combining five novel alleles related to resistant starch levels. Previous varieties released by PAU focused on aspects like high zinc content and premium chapati quality but lacked the distinctive features of PBW RS1.


Despite its lower grain yield compared to other wheat varieties, PAU Vice-Chancellor Dr. Satbir Singh Gosal emphasizes the importance of pursuing nutritional security initiatives. He suggests promoting PBW RS1 flour as a product with high medicinal and nutritional value, potentially commanding a higher price similar to premium basmati paddy.


In September, PAU plans to provide PBW RS1 seeds to farmers for sowing during the upcoming rabi season. Beyond its nutritional attributes, PBW RS1 exhibits complete resistance to yellow rust and moderate resistance to brown rust fungal diseases. The high amylose and resistant starch content of PBW RS1 also appeals to bakers and food processors, as it can enhance fiber content without the need for additional additives.

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