Big Sandy, MT—Kamut International celebrated its 30th anniversary at Expo West with a booth birthday party, a new product launch and the release of new research.

Bob Quinn, Ph.D., a fourth-generation farmer 2,700 acres and an organic farming advocate, was 16 when he sampled some kernels from an unusual wheat said to have come from ancient Egypt. Years later, he pursued it, seeding his entire supply of the ancient wheat on a 1.5-acre plot. Before long, the industry’s interest in the grain took off and several food companies came to market with Kamut products.  

Quinn, long recognizing the unique qualities of this grain, and has committed research funding into learning about it. At Expo West, Kamut released its fourth publication in a series of six major human clinical trials. The most recent piece of research was published in the European Journal of Nutrition by scientists from the University of Florence. The investigators pulled together a group of 21 type-2 diabetics. Individuals were either assigned to eat certain foods (bread, pasta, crackers and biscuits) made with ancient khorasan wheat (Kamut) or a modern control wheat for two months. After a washout period, the groups switched their diets.

The researchers determined that Kamut improved the metabolic profiles of individuals in several ways: total and LDL cholesterol were reduced (mean reduction: −3.7 and −3.4%, respectively), insulin levels dropped (−16.3%) and blood glucose went down (−9.1%). Meanwhile, Kamut also was found to have a higher antioxidant content, and eating this wheat reduced circulating levels of reactive oxygen species.

Quinn says the anti-inflammatory properties of Kamut are some of the most interesting of all its qualities, given that modern wheat has inflammatory properties. He says research teams recently published data showing the benefits of Kamut on individuals with irritable bowel syndrome and heart disease. He feels that areas ripe for more research include the effect of Kamut on the microbiome and gut; the role of Kamut in healthy weight management and brain health; the potential gene-switching pathways for new metabolic functions turned on by ancient grains; and Kamut’s antioxidant levels and capacities.

“That will give us a clue about what’s really going on. That’s really exciting,” he stated. “We also want to see if these same characteristics in Kamut are available in other wheats. We’re currently doing a culture of human cells to see which varieties of wheat cause inflammation and which ones don’t…with good wheat we can change the world.”

Published in WholeFoods Magazine May 2016 (Online, 3/30/16)