Exploiting newly discovered multiple-effect bioactive compounds for the development of immunoregulatory and appetite-controlling bread and breakfast products.

Project summary

It was recently discovered that mature grains of rye, wheat, and maize contain secondary metabolites of the benzoxazinoid type, a group of compounds with remarkable pharmacological effects. We hypothesize that these compounds can contribute to the beneficial effects of whole grain products relative to health problems such as obesity, allergy, and inflammatory diseases.

The aims of this proposal are to document the health promoting effects of benzoxazinoids as bioactive constituents of wholegrain products and to devise optimized methods for exploiting these beneficial effects. Previous studies in our lab demonstrated that raw whole grains contain a range of benzoxazinoid compounds AND that the amounts of these compounds increase or the composition changes substantially due to enzymatically controlled biosynthesis during processing (e.g. baking and malting). Industrially produced rye bread and cereal products also contain these compounds in considerable amounts. We will elucidate the processes that form the basis for the increased biosynthesis of benzoxazinoids during hydrothermal pre-treatment of grains and subsequent processing.

We will develop recipes and invent industrial food products with a taste that appeals to the consumer and with optimized benzoxazinoid content. We will also elucidate the metabolism of benzoxazinoids in the human digestive system. Finally, we will perform human consumption studies to address the effects of benzoxazinoids and their metabolites on immune homeostasis and allergy.

The project will provide the techniques and knowledge needed in the preparation of bread and wholegrain products to ensure that an optimal content of health promoting benzoxazinoids are present in food products. We envisage in this project a large potential for innovation in the area of foods and health.


The BREAD AND BREAKFAST project is coordinated by associate professor, PhD Inge S. Fomsgaard, Aarhus University, Dept. of Agroecology. The research work is distributed in five work packages as listed below. Acronym of participating institute in parenthesis with principal in bold.

  • WP1. Natural compounds and pathways (AU-GBI, AU-IPM)
  • WP2. Development of food products (LM, SKA)
  • WP3. Human consumption (GEH-ALC, LM)
  • WP4. Nutriokinetics and metabolomics (AU-IPM)
  • WP5. Allergology and immunology (RH-IIR, GEH-ALC) 


Publications in peer reviewed journals
Tanwir, F.; Fredholm, M.; Gregersen, P.L.; Fomsgaard, I.S. Comparison of the levels of bioactive benzoxazinoids in different wheat and rye fractions and the transformation of these compounds in homemade foods. Food Chemistry 2013, 141, 444-450. 

Adhikari, K.B.; Laerke, H.N.; Mortensen, A.G.; Fomsgaard, I.S. Plasma and urine concentrations of bioactive dietary benzoxazinoids and their glucuronidated conjugates in rats fed a rye bread-based diet. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012, 60, 11518 – 11524. 

Adhikari, K.; Laursen, B.; Laerke, H.N.; Fomsgaard, I.S. Bioactive benzoxazinoids in rye bread are absorbed and metabolized in pigs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2012, 60, 2497-506

Pedersen, H.A.; Laursen, B.; Mortensen, A.G.; Fomsgaard, I.S. Bread from common cereal cultivars contains an important array of neglected bioactive benzoxazinoids. Food Chemistry 2011, 127, 1814-1820

Presentations at scientific conferences
LC-MSMS Based Metabolomics Reveals for the First Time That Bioactive Benzoxazinoids in Rye Bread are Absorbed and Metabolized in Pigs. Adhikari, Khem B.; Laursen, Bente B.; Lærke, Helle N.; Fomsgaard, Inge S. 2012. Poster presented at Food Metabolomics, Karlsruhe, Germany 

Absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of dietary benzoxazinoids in rats. Adhikari, Khem; Lærke, Helle N.; Mortensen, Anne G.; Fomsgaard, Inge S. 2012. Poster presented at Metabomeeting, Manchester, U.K. 

Effects of milling and cooking processes on bioactive benzoxazinoids in wheat and rye. Tanwir, Fariha; Fredholm, Maria; Gregersen, Per L.; Fomsgaard, Inge S. 2012. Poster presented at Metabomeeting, Manchester, U.K.

Publications in public media

Interview with Inge S. Fomsgaard, Danmarks Radio, P1:
Fuldkornets X-faktor skal findes
Janne Hansen (english version): The whole truth about whole grain
Janne Hansen (dansk version): Den fulde sandhed om fuldkorn
Nikolaj Stengade Schulz: Fuldkorns X-faktor skal findes
Khem B. Adhikari: A bid for whole grains. In The Kathmandu Post, 2012.


The BREAD AND BREAKFAST project was funded by The Danish Council for Strategic Research
(J. nr. 10-093543).

Participants of the BREAD AND BREAKFAST project are grateful for the funding.

Project coordinator

Inge S. Fomsgaard

Associate professor
P +4587158212
P +4522283399


Aarhus University (AU-IPM), Department of Agroecology
Forsøgsvej 1, DK-4200 Slagelse 

Associate professor, project coordinator, PhD Inge S. Fomsgaard
+45 87158212 / +45 22283399

Head laboratory technician Bente B. Laursen

Administrative case officer Inge Harbo

Ph.D. student Khem Adhikari

Aarhus University (AU-GBI), Department of Molecular Biology and 
Genetics, Forsøgsvej 1, DK-4200 Slagelse 

Senior scientist, PhD Per Gregersen
+45 87158246 

PhD student, Fariha Tanwir

Gentofte Hospital (GEH-ALC), National University Hospital,
Clinic of Allergy, Dept. 7551, Niels Andersens Vej 65, DK-2900 Hellerup 

Head of Research, Professor Lars K. Poulsen
+45 35457356

Dietician Heidi Schnoor

Senior scientist, Bettina M. Jensen 

Rigshospitalet (RH-IIR), Institute for Inflammation Research, Clinic of Rheumatology, Dept. 7521, Blegdamsvej 9, DK-2100 København Ø 

Associate professor, MD, PhD Claus H. Nielsen
+45 35457188 / +45 20466874

Post doc Yaseelan Palarasah  

Lantmännen R&D (LM), SE-104 25 Stockholm  

Visiting address in Malmö:
Norra Neptunigatan 11, SE-211 18 Malmø

Project manager, Maria Fredholm
+46 702252464 

Skarresøhus (SKA), Ballevej 2, Skarresø
DK-8550 Ryomgård 
Cook, author, Anemette Olesen
+45 86394309 / +45 23404309 / +45 24239451


FATEALLCHEM (Fate and toxicity of allelochemicals (natural plant toxins) in relation to environment and consumer)

EU financed FP5 project, headed by Inge S. Fomsgaard, on the ecological importance of benzoxazinoids

AMARANTH:FUTURE-FOOD (Adding Value to Holy Grain: Providing the Key Tools for the Exploitation of Amaranth - the Protein-rich Grain of the Aztecs)

EU financed FP6 project, headed by Inge S. Fomsgaard, on amaranth


Different recipes were developed by our collaborator and cook, Anemette Olesen, in the BREAD AND BREAKFAST project. During development of the recipes specific focus was on designing tasty whole grain products with high contents of benzoxazinoids.

Future events will include workshops for children and adults where they can prepare selected whole grain products and provide their feedback on the taste and quality of the prepared products.

Further contact information for Anemette Olesen is available in the Participants link.

Bread and breakfast - Cook book