Physical, microscopic and chemical characterisation of industrial rye and wheat brans from the Nordic countries
Background: Epidemiological studies show inverse relationship between intake of wholegrain cereals and
several chronic diseases. Components and mechanisms behind possible protective effects of wholegrain
cereals are poorly understood.
Objective: To characterise commercial rye bran preparations, compared to wheat bran, regarding structure
and content of nutrients as well as a number of presumably bioactive compounds.
Design: Six different rye brans from Sweden, Denmark and Finland were analysed and compared with two
wheat brans regarding colour, particle size distribution, microscopic structures and chemical composition
including proximal components, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds.
Results: Rye brans were generally greener in colour and smaller in particle size than wheat brans. The rye
brans varied considerably in their starch content (13.2-28.3%), which reflected variable inclusion of the
starchy endosperm. Although rye and wheat brans contained comparable levels of total dietary fibre, they
differed in the relative proportions of fibre components (i.e. arabinoxylan, β-glucan, cellulose, fructan and
Klason lignin). Generally, rye brans contained less cellulose and more β-glucan and fructan than wheat brans.
Within small variations, the rye and wheat brans were comparable regarding the contents of tocopherols/
tocotrienols, total folate, sterols/stanols, phenolic acids and lignans. Rye bran had less glycine betaine and
more alkylresorcinols than wheat brans.
Conclusions: The observed variation in the chemical composition of industrially produced rye brans calls for
the need of standardisation of this commodity, especially when used as a functional ingredient in foods.
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