Oats are the fourth largest grain crop produced in Australia. Oats almost never have their bran and germ removed in processing so most food products containing ‘oats’, ‘oat flour’ or ‘oatmeal’ as an ingredient contain wholegrain oats. Oats are naturally rich in beta-glucan – a soluble fibre found in the bran and endosperm layer of the oat grain. Beta-glucan has been shown to improve blood glucose control after a meal and improves insulin responses as well as decrease cholesterol levels. More recent research indicates oats contain avenanthramides – a unique phytochemical that has been shown to help protect blood vessels from the damaging effects of LDL-cholesterol.
Nutrition credentials of whole grain oats:
- High in carbohydrates (mainly starch).
- The protein content is higher than other cereals, at around 14%.
- High in soluble dietary fibre, specifically beta-glucan found mainly in the aleurone and subaleurone layers.
- The fat content is the highest of all grains (7-8%), with fat contained in the endosperm and the germ. The fat is mostly unsaturated.
- The starchy endosperm of the oat grain contains more fat and protein than other cereal grain.
- High in potassium and low in sodium.
- Contains B-group vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate and pantothenic acid.
- Contains vitamin E.
- Contains iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium (depending on the soil content of selenium).
- Contains small amounts of copper, manganese and calcium.
- Contains phytochemicals including lignans, phenolic acids (such as ferrulic and caffeic acids), phytic acid, plant sterols and saponins.
A table comparing the nutrient content of different types of grains can be downloaded from our Grains & Nutrition page.
To view references click here.