Gastrointestinal responses of rats fed on white and wholemeal breads: complex carbohydrate digestibility and the influence of dietary fat content

Br J Nutr. 1993 Mar;69(2):481-95. doi: 10.1079/bjn19930049.


To obtain quantitative information on the digestibility of the non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) fraction of white and wholemeal breads, rats were fed on diets in which freeze-dried bread (white, wholemeal or mixtures of the two) provided all the complex carbohydrates. In a second experiment the possibility that dietary fat concentration might influence NSP digestibility was tested by feeding diets containing 30 or 170 g maize oil/kg and either white or wholemeal bread. Multiple linear regression analysis provided little evidence of associative effects of dietary components on NSP digestibility and in the two experiments digestibilities of NSP for white and wholemeal breads were 0.77-0.82 and 0.47-0.52 respectively. Xylose- and arabinose-containing polymers were better digested than was cellulose for both breads. Replacing white by wholemeal bread markedly increased the molar proportion of butyrate in caecal volatile fatty acids at the expense of acetate. This was associated with greater flows of organic matter to the large bowel (LB) and a reduction in caecal transit time (Expt 2). There was little detectable effect of dietary maize oil concentration on NSP digestibility or on LB fermentation. All breads contained some starch resistant to pancreatic alpha-amylase (EC without previous treatment with dimethyl sulphoxide. The digestibility of this starch fraction was not significantly different from 1.0 for all diets except that containing wholemeal bread and the higher maize oil concentration where the apparent digestibility was 0.89.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bread*
  • Butyrates / metabolism
  • Cecum / metabolism
  • Corn Oil / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Digestion*
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile / metabolism
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Gastrointestinal Transit / physiology
  • Male
  • Nitrogen / analysis
  • Nitrogen / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Acetates
  • Butyrates
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Volatile
  • Polysaccharides
  • Corn Oil
  • Nitrogen