Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal grain grown in temperate regions for its seed. Oats contain gluten so are not suitable for celiac, though gluten free oats are available. They can be rolled or crushed into oatmeal, ground into fine flour, used in a variety of baked goods, such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies and oat bread, eaten as porridge, muesli and granola; oatmilk is a popular alternative to cow’s milk.
Rich source of B-complex vitamins, protein, fats, minerals and dietary fibre, beta-glucan.
Beta-glucans belong to a group of polysaccharides in the cell wall of bacteria, fungi including mushrooms, barley and oats. They also contain avenanthramides, flavonoids, flavonolignans, triterpenoid saponins, sterols, and tocols. Immunomodulatory and health beneficial effects including anti-cancer, anti-cholesterol, anti-coagulant properties; also anti-cytotoxic, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumour.
Avenanthramides, polyphenols found exclusively in oats may play a role in their anti-atherogenic, anti-oxidant, anti-genotoxic activity; also anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-itching, which may provide additional protection against coronary heart disease, colon cancer, and skin irritation.
Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-Oxidant: due to avenanthramides and beta-glucans. Oats decreased systemic and exercise-induced inflammation and increased antioxidant defence in postmenopausal women.
Cancer: Oats may reduce colon cancer risk due to high fibre content and avenanthramides. Beta-glucans stimulate the immune system, modulating cellular immunity, beneficial in fighting infections (bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic). Bound phytochemicals could survive stomach and intestinal digestion to reach the colon, partly explaining grain consumption in prevention of colon, other digestive, breast and prostate cancers.
Cardiovascular and Cholesterol: Whole oats decrease serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and blood pressure and can reduce the need for antihypertensive medication.
Cystic Fibrosis: Oats may be a source of acid stable lipase useful in treating patients with pancreatic insufficiency, especially those who have cystic fibrosis.
Diabetes: Whole oats improve glucose and insulin responses, beta-glucan increases insulin sensitivity index. Oat bran in snacks extends glycaemic response, possibly prolonging glucose release and affecting satiety responses.
Digestion: Oat-bran helps improve constipation management and B12 bioavailability in elderly. Oat wholemeal or beta-glucan increases intestinal energy charge, particularly in the small intestine (ileum) and elevates amounts of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the colon, benefitting intestinal health and increasing insulin sensitivity.
Exercise Stress: Oat beta-glucan may offset the increased risk of upper respiratory tract infection associated with exercise stress. Oats eaten before exercise can alter metabolism by influencing glucose homeostasis during early exercise and plasma branched-chain amino acid concentrations over a substantial range of metabolic demands.
Oat bran-rich foods have beneficial effect on the metabolic profile of overweight premenopausal women. Oat beta-glucan decreased insulin secretion over 2 hours. Satiety was increased with 2.2 g beta-glucan and subsequent meal intake decreased by greater than 400 kJ with 5g beta-glucan.
Skin: Avenanthramides have an anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine activity that helps relieve skin itch and irritation.
Adding Oats to your Diet
- Whole oats porridge, oatcakes, oatmeal, oatmilk, oat muesli and granola
- Add to a meal or snack to lower the glycaemic index
- My favourite snack is oatcakes with manuka honey and cinnamon
We are happy to advise you on your health matters.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic