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J Nutr. 2001 Jun;131(6):1770-6.

Whole wheat and triticale flours with differing viscosities stimulate cecal fermentations and lower plasma and hepatic lipids in rats.

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  • 1Institut Technique des Céréales et des Fourrages (ITCF), Laboratoire Qualité des Céréales, 75013 Paris, France.


Whole flours from oat, rye or barley effectively modify digestive fermentation and lipid metabolism, whereas the effectiveness of whole wheat flour has not been established. To address this question, cecal digestion, short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) metabolism and cholesterol metabolism were investigated in four groups of rats fed the following semipurified diets differing in their carbohydrate source: a control diet (purified wheat starch) and three whole cereal flour diets [Valoris wheat (Wv), Soissons wheat (Ws), or Carnac triticale (Tc)]. Wv is particularly viscous and rich in arabinoxylans, and Tc is richer in hemicellulose than wheat. Compared with controls, rats fed the whole-flour diets had enlarged ceca and a moderate acidification of the bulk pH ( approximately 6.4). In these rats, the cecal SCFA pool size was enhanced (P < 0.05), and the SCFA molar ratio reflected propionic/butyric acid-rich fermentations, especially in those fed TC: The portal SCFA concentrations reflected the rise of the acetic and propionic acid pools in the cecum, whereas portal butyric acid remained relatively low, probably reflecting extensive metabolism by the cecal wall. The fecal excretion of total steroids (bile acids + sterols) was markedly enhanced by all of the whole-flour diets, with Wv (+78%) > Tc (+64%) > Ws (+47%). In parallel, there was a significant plasma cholesterol-lowering effect for rats fed Wv (-27%) and Tc (-32%) and a plasma triglyceride-lowering effect (approximately -40%) in all rats fed whole-flour diets (P < 0.05). This effect was observed mainly for triglyceride-rich lipoprotein-cholesterol, whereas HDL cholesterol was unaffected. These results indicate that whole wheat flours can strikingly affect cecal SCFA, especially butyrate, and are effective plasma cholesterol-lowering agents.

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