Ancient wheat varieties are as allergenic as modern breeds

An Australian study of 170 wheat varieties found modern wheat was no more allergenic than traditional varieties.

The research examined the allergenicity of wheat varieties grown in Australia from 1860 to 2015, including some original varieties brought from England that were bred to suit Australian conditions. The study found that one of the most allergenic varieties was one grown in the 1800s.

These findings disprove popular theories that early types of wheat are less allergenic than newer varieties bred using modern genetic techniques, with many people claiming to be allergic to wheat but able to consume ancient varieties such as spelt without issue.

Variation in the levels of allergenicity were detected using new diagnostic methods developed as part of this research. As a result, varieties with a low content of immunoreactive proteins could now be selected for use in wheat breeding programs to provide a product that may be better tolerated by sensitised consumers.

See the Charles Sturt University website for more information about the research.