The hulled wheat einkorn (Triticum monococcum L. ssp. monococcum), a staple food of early farmers for many thousand years, today is cropped only in small areas of the Mediterranean region and continental Europe. Increasing attention to the nutritional quality of foods has fostered renewed interest in this low-impact crop. The reappraisal of einkorn quality evidenced that this ancient wheat has some dietary advantages over polyploid wheats. Einkorn wholemeal is poor in dietary fibre but rich in proteins, lipids (mostly unsaturated fatty acids), fructans and trace elements (including zinc and iron). The good concentration of several antioxidant compounds (carotenoids, tocols, conjugated polyphenols, alkylresorcinols and phytosterols) and low β-amylase and lipoxygenase activities (which limit antioxidant degradation during food processing) contribute to the excellent nutritional properties of its flour, superior to those of other wheats. Conversely, einkorn has relatively low bound polyphenol content and high polyphenol oxidase activity. In spite of eliciting weaker toxic reactions than other Triticum species, einkorn is not suitable for coeliacs. Current trends towards the consumption of functional foods suggest that this cereal may still play a significant role in human consumption, especially in the development of new or special foods with superior nutritional quality.
Keywords: antioxidants; einkorn; nutritional quality; proteins; wheat.
© 2013 Society of Chemical Industry.