Wonder Bread

Reporter: Laura Sparkes

It's bread like you've never seen before. Promising health benefits from weight loss to reducing heart attacks. These three super ingredients are now turning Australia's multi billion bread industry on its head.

This small plant, once used as a soil improver or cattle feed has the scientific world abuzz. Convinced it could one day form the basis of so many food products. Leading nutritionist Susie Burrell is amazed at Lupins overall health benefits.

"Lupin is actually a legume. It's got a number of positive nutritional properties. It's extremely high in protein, so early studies found that if you had a lupin bread in your diet then you consume significantly less calories throughout the day which of occurs, from a weight control perspective is of major benefit."

Prof Peter Leedman "They've improved blood pressure and also the way glucose is handled in the body - Two really important areas for public health of the community."

Professor Peter Leedman from the centre for food and genomic medicine at Perth's Curtain University says ongoing studies of this food source prove its incredible health powers.

"Eating with a secondary gain that actually your food tends to be a type of medicine that's a very exciting opportunity…lupins are potentially extremely good for you and very healthy."

Michael Horrocks, founder of Adelaide's Lifestyle Bakery… supplies his dietary and health bread range to health food stores around the country. He uses lupin and the other super ingredients in different types of Lifestyle loaves.

Michael "Lupin flour, we've been using for four or five years now. We based our lupin flour on research that came out of Western Australia…It found that diets that were high in lupin flour, it assisted people in weight control in particular. It suppresses their appetite."

While Lupin bread is slowly making its way onto our shelves, breads containing the ancient ingredients of chia and spelt have seen a major spike in sales.

Susie Burrell "A key quality of chai is that it's extremely high in fibre and it's also got a very high omega 3 content and you can see the different kinds of bread are incorporating that into the loaf… Now spelt is a kind of flour. It's got particularly low wheat content and hence can be of benefit to people who suffer from wheat intolerance"

Andrew Connole from Sonoma Bakery in Sydney is a devotee of spelt, a Middle Eastern grain now grown in Australia and used in many Aussie breads."

"We found that those who like the spelt bread really enjoy it not only for its taste, but also for the fact that they're getting an added health benefit. Those who sometimes might not be able to digest our regular sour dough....They're finding that can not only digest it, but the bread also tastes great as well."

Michael Horrocks "spelt's a very ancient grain. It's an ancient cousin of modern wheat and over the centuries it hasn't changed, so for thousands of years it's remained the same and it too is very, very easy to digest. We find it's very, very suitable for people with digestive problems, a lot of people who have problems with diabetes as well tell us it works for them."

Susie Burrell "The other kind of bread that's received a lot of attention is the chia loaf. It's particularly high in omega 3 fat, it's extremely high in fibre and contains quite a high level of protein. Now nutritionally, that means we're getting the essential fats in our diet which we know are very low. Long term health benefits of those is a reduced inflammation throughout the body, very good for heart health and a nutrient that's very low in Australians' diets so great way to incorporate that key nutrient in an everyday food."

John Foss "Chia is the richest plant base form of omega 3 dietary fibre, protein and anti oxidants, so it's this incredibly nutrient dense seed that's a wholegrain that can be used in a whole range of foods daily."

John Foss is the founder of The Chia Company based in Melbourne and the man who brought the ancient Aztec food source to Australia, convincing several bread makers to use it. He even established his own chia farm in Western Australia.

John Foss "Omega 3, they're beneficial for cardio health and skin, hair, mobility. Dietary fibre is recognized for all the benefits of gut health, protein, anti oxidants.. The hydration of chia gave them(Aztecs) sustained energy as well as hydration when they were running and so it was known as the Indian running food by the Aztecs and the Mayans."

Bill Caldwell "It's been a very successful product for us, yes something that the customers relate to because it does have those health benefits that you can't necessarily get in a lot of other products."

Bill Caldwell, general manager of Bakers Delight says his company has thoroughly researched the chia plant and has no doubt as to its amazing health properties

Bill Caldwell "So here we have a traditional whole meal loaf which is three dollars fifty. On the left hand side we have a whole meal chia loaf which is four dollars twenty. Only a couple of extra cents a slice, fantastic value for your family."

Adrianna Hamod from Melbourne's Centenary Bakery says her Yum bread range also carries a chia loaf, which is now popular with many parents who give it to their kids."

Adrianna "It's super healthy. It's high in fibre and protein… The parents love it and we've had parents call up for information packs. They've taken it to their parents groups and like shown it around so it's had quite a good reception."

Lifestyle Bakery's Michael Horrocks…"As we found that people were more and more interested in these super foods, particularly ingredients that offer high levels of anti oxidants, we worked harder and harder to find them and people really appreciate you not only trying to cater for some specific allergy or ailment, but also making sure that the product is tasty and nutritional as well. Most definitely we're well past the days of two choices of bread... white bread and brown bread."