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U of S Evaluates Advantages of Low Glycemic Index Barley

by 5m Editor
14 October 2003, at 12:00am

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 1362. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.

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Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

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Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

Farm-Scape, Episode 1362

The University of Saskatchewan's Animal and Poultry Science Department is examining the potential of manipulating the Glycemic Index of barley to improve its competitiveness against corn.

Glycemic Index is the rate at which energy from starch in the diet is absorbed into the bloodstream.

The lower the number the more efficient the utilization. A pilot feeding study this summer looked at diets based on five different varieties of barley and compared them to corn, focusing on Glycemic Index.

Associate Professor Dr. Murray Drew says, while total energy in the diet is generally considered, the rate at which that energy is absorbed is also important.

"It turns out that a low Glycemic Index is a good thing for pig producers because what we want is we want the energy from the starch to be absorbed at the same rate as protein is absorbed.

Corn has a Glycemic Index of approximately 95 to 100, somewhere in that range. Barley has a Glycemic Index of only 70 so, I think for low glycemic grains like barley, that's the case.

We have a slow absorption of energy and we want to synchronize the absorption of all of the nutrients in the diet so they all arrive in the bloodstream and to the liver at the same time.

If you feed a grain like corn, the starch is absorbed very quickly and what happens is that the amount of glucose in the bloodstream goes up very sharply and so the pig has to release a lot more insulin.

Because of that, that pushes the metabolism of the pig into producing fat rather than into producing lean tissue growth".

Dr. Drew says the Glycemic Index among the study's five barley varieties ranged from as high 70 to as low as 30.

He's confident selecting for Glycemic Index will allow scientists to develop barley varieties that will be more competitive in the feed market. He plans to expand the research by the end of the year.

For Farmscape.Ca, I'm Bruce Cochrane.

5m Editor