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All about “Oats”, the healthy food

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Health profile

A very popular cereal for several years, the main advantage of oats is its soluble fiber content . In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a claim that a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, including soluble fiber, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease . It is interesting to note that of all cereals, oats are the richest in lipids, mainly in unsaturated fatty acids.

Oats: understand everything in 2 min

Active ingredients and properties

Grain products are of great importance for healthy eating. One of Health Canada’s Food Recommendations for the Health of Canadians is to provide “most of the diet for grains, breads and other cereal products, as well as vegetables and fruits” 2 . The Canada Food Guide to Healthy Eating recognizes this recommendation and insists on choosing grain products whole grain or enriched 3 . The American authorities, for their part, recommend that at least half of the cereal products consumed be whole grain 4 .

Of epidemiological studies have shown that the consumption of whole grains be connected to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases 5 , diabetes 6 , certain cancers , 8 and obesity , 10 . These beneficial effects are said to be related to the synergy between the many compounds found in whole grain products, such as fiber, antioxidants , vitamins and minerals. Since the majority of these compounds are contained in bran and germ 11 , it is advantageous to consume whole grains rather than refined.

Fibers . Oat-based foods have been the subject of several investigations, particularly because of their beta-glucan content , a soluble fiber present in large quantities in this cereal. Soluble fiber promotes fecal excretion of cholesterol by reducing its production by the liver, which results in a significant, but modest, reduction in blood cholesterol levels . The mechanism of action suggested is linked to the viscosity of beta-glucan, which would interfere with the reabsorption of bile acids, thus causing a reduction in plasma cholesterol levels 5 . A diet rich in soluble fiber can also help normalize blood levels ofglucose and insulin , which can help in the treatment of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. In fact, beta-glucan slows the absorption of carbohydrates in the intestine 12 , which lowers blood sugar after meals, thereby reducing the need for insulin. It would therefore be a food to be preferred by people suffering from type 2 diabetes 13 .

Oats contain a large proportion of soluble and insoluble fiber, which gives it beneficial effects on the digestive system. In fact, fibers help normalize intestinal transit in addition to producing a satiating effect more quickly 14 . Finally, several studies have shown that a diet rich in fiber is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer 15-17 . Although the preventive effect has been demonstrated, the role of fibers in the treatment of cancer remains controversial 18 , 19 .

Oat protein . Oat protein is considered to be of good quality since it contains several essential amino acids. However, as in all cereals, some of these amino acids are present in lesser quantities, hence the need to supplement with other protein sources such as meat or legumes. Remember that an amino acid is essential when the body cannot produce it and must necessarily come from food.

Other properties

Is oats antioxidant? A little . Oats have a TAC of 17.1 μmol.
Is oats acidifying? Data not available.
Does oats have a high glycemic load? Moderately . The glycemic load of 250 g of oat groats is 11.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

Excellent source Phosphorus. The oat bran is an excellent source of phosphorus, while the oatmeal is a good source. Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in the body after calcium. It plays an essential role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps to maintain normal blood pH . Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.

Excellent source Manganese. The sound and oatmeal are excellent sources of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

Good source Magnesium. The oat bran is a good source of magnesium for women and a source for humans, human needs are higher. The oatmeal is a source of magnesium for men and women. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

Good source Iron. The oat bran is a good source of iron for the man and a source for women, the needs of women being superior. The oatmeal is a sourceof iron for man and woman. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in food of vegetable origin is less absorbed by the organism than the iron contained in food of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored by the consumption of certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

Good source Selenium. The sound and oatmeal are good sources of selenium. This mineral works with one of the main antioxidant enzymes, thus preventing the formation of free radicals in the body. It also helps to convert thyroid hormones to their active form.

Good source Vitamin B1 . The sound and oatmeal are good sources of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine , vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.

Source Zinc. The sound and oatmeal are sources of zinc. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the production, storage and release of insulin.

Source Copper. The sound and oatmeal are sources of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.

Source Pantothenic acid. The sound and oatmeal are sources of pantothenic acid. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme allowing the body to adequately use the energy from ingested food. It is also involved in several stages of the production of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses) and hemoglobin.

What is a “portion” of oats worth?
Weight / volume Oat bran prepared with water, 175 ml / 153 g Unenriched oat groats, prepared with water, 175 ml / _164 g
Calories 62 103
Protein 4.9 g 4.3 g
Carbohydrates 17.5g 17.7g
Fat 1.3 g 1.6g
Dietary fiber 4.0g 2.8g

Source  : USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference , 2007.

Compounds both harmful and beneficial in cereals …

Cereal grains contain phytochemicals. The phytic acid, which is one of the most abundant micro-constituents of grain, is a good example. This compound, which is found in greater quantity in the outer covering of the grain (bran) and in the germ, has the ability to bind to certain minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc) and, thus, to reduce their absorption in the intestine. However, the researchers agree that in a North American context, where there is an abundance and diversity of food and where nutritional deficiency is rather marginal, this effect has little impact on health. The consumption of phytic acid (or phytate) would even be beneficial since it acts as an antioxidant in the body. Indeed, phytic acid, and more specifically its derivatives, could help protect against colon cancer and even against cardiovascular disease. These effects,


Celiac disease
Also known as gluten intolerance, celiac disease affects approximately 4 in 1,000 people in North America. People with this condition suffer from a permanent intolerance to gluten, a protein found in the grain of many grains. In the case of celiac disease, eating gluten can cause intestinal symptoms, such as a malabsorption of several nutrients. The gliadin is part of the gluten in wheat that causes an immune reaction in people with this disease.

Oats do not contain gliadin, but contain another molecule of similar composition, avenin . Given their great molecular resemblance, oats have been attributed the same physiological effects as those caused by wheat. However, more and more studies have shown that oats are tolerated by the vast majority of celiacs 20 . However, given the lack of certainty, the Quebec Federation of Celiac Disease and the Canadian Association of Celiac Disease do not advise people with gluten intolerance to consume oats, especially since this cereal there is a high risk of being contaminated with other cereals such as wheat or barley.

Oats over time

The term “oats” , from the Latin avena , appeared in the French language in the XII th  century and then wrote “aveine” taking its final shape in the XVI th  century. Some believe that the Latin term is a modification of a very old Sanskrit word, avana , which means “enjoyment”.

Oats come from Asia. As there are many species and subspecies, and as it is botanically very close to other grasses, its origin and evolution remain obscure. However, it is believed that the most economically important species, A. sativa , or common oats, and A. byzantina , or red oats, are both native to a region that includes Asia Minor, Transcaucasia, Iran and the plateaus of Turkmenistan.

Oats seem to have appeared much later than wheat in human food, its uses being primarily medicinal. It would not have been cultivated before the turn of our era. From its domestication center, it has spread in Eastern and Northern Europe by spontaneously establishing itself in the fields of wheat or barley. It is likely that the Celts and the Germans cultivated it 2,000 years ago.

At the beginning of the XVII th  century, it will be introduced in North America, where it will find a land and a climate that suited him especially. In Canada, it will first be cultivated in the East, but almost half of the world harvest is now produced in the Western provinces. However, between the 1910s, when he planted more oats in Canada than any other cereal, and the 1970s, his production did not stop declining, following in this the fate of the carriage and draft horse, for which oats were a prime food.

However, since the 1970s, the trend has reversed, the nutritional qualities of this grass having been widely publicized and consumers are more and more concerned about their health.

Culinary uses

Discover our recipe for fruit cereal bars , or its apricot-based version made from oatmeal.

Choose well

Can be purchased in bulk sound , the flour , the whole grain or crushed and rolled oats . The flakes can be of various sizes, be more or less finely rolled, get rid of their bran or not, etc. The organic oats is widely available in health food stores.

Watch out for processed products, including breakfast cereals, which may contain sugar, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, artificial flavors, colors and other poorly nutritious devices.

Culinary dishes

Both flour and flakes can replace all or part of the white flour or whole wheat flour in bread, muffins, pies, cakes, pizza dough, etc. If you replace 1 cup of white flour, you will use 1 cup of oatmeal or 1 ½ cup of ground flakes. For 1 cup of whole wheat flour, you need ¾ cup of oatmeal or 1 ¼ flakes.

The Scots and Oats
In Scotland, where the soil is too poor to grow wheat, barley or rye, oats are part of the diet, something the English once considered with a certain height, as evidenced by this entry in a reputed dictionary of 1755: “Oats: cereal that the Scots consume, but that the English give only to their horses. The Scots will have this word, which they do not hesitate to use today: “This is why England has such good horses and Scotland, such admirable men!” “

The Scottish galette is made of oatmeal and buttermilk. We put the preparation in the refrigerator overnight and the next day we add eggs and melted butter, and spices of its taste, before cooking.

To prepare the porridge, or oat groats, cook flakes in water or milk and eat as is or with cream, yogurt, pieces of fruit, maple syrup, honey, etc. .

The “granola” or muesli is prepared by roasting oats, chopped nuts, honey, cinnamon, a little vanilla and salt. Put in the oven for half an hour, stirring every ten minutes. Serve with pieces of dried fruit, as is or in milk or yogurt.

In North America, it is made a crispy preparation which garnishes a dessert with fruit compote. In Quebec, it is called ”  croustade  “.

In the high mountains of Sansi, on the Sino-Mongolian border, at altitudes where no other cereal grows, oats have always been used and are still used to prepare the main dish, yumienwowo , which consists of a mash rolled very finely like a tart dough, then cut into squares which are wrapped around the finger to give them the shape of a cigar. The cigars are then placed in a basket and steamed.

In South America and Asia, powdered oats are reduced to the same amount of sugar, flavors and vitamins. Mixed with milk or fruit juice, the preparation is taken in the form of a drink .

Can also :

  • Add oatmeal to vegetable soups to thicken them and increase their protein value.
  • Mix minced meat and oatmeal with zucchini, onions and chopped peppers, salt and pepper. Shape into patties which will be grilled on both sides. Serve with a little sour cream, lettuce and tomato slices. Or mix canned salmon, oatmeal, milk, eggs, herbs and cook like patties.
  • Add oatmeal to meatloaf preparations .
  • Make it a preparation, with a few vegetables or meat, to stuff tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, etc.
  • In the pilaf , replace the rice with oatmeal.
  • Eat the rolled oats raw , but it is better to first make sure that they are digested well, some people may have difficulties. To avoid unpleasant reactions, gradually introduce raw flakes into the diet and always drink plenty of fluids at the same time.
  • Add oat bran to yogurts, fruit compotes, bread preparations, pies, cakes, muffins, etc., to increase their dietary fiber content.

Organic gardening

Oats are a field crop, which is normally sown in the field. However, in the vegetable patch, it can act as both a green manure and a protective crop for plots that are left bare after a harvest. In the first case, it will be sown in spring, preferably with a legume, and buried before flowering. In the second case, it will be sown in the middle or at the end of the summer. Dying from frost, it will leave a thick carpet that will prevent soil erosion and inhibit weed emergence the following spring. We can then bury it to benefit from its contribution in organic matter or leave it there and plant through the mulch plants of slow-growing vegetables, requiring a clean soil, devoid of weeds.

Sow at a rate of 1 to 1.5 kg per 30 square meters.

Oats tolerate acid soils better than other grains.

Ecology and environment

Oats are one of those multipurpose plants whose cultivation is relatively harmless to the environment. It can be used for grazing, silage or hay of farm animals while the grain is used as energy food for ruminants, constitutes the basic cereal for horses, and can account for 30% in the food of chickens and 50% in that of laying hens. Thanks to its richness in minerals, it helps prevent perosis (ossification of the hock joint) in chicken and gastric ulcers in pork. Very absorbent, its straw is excellent as litter.

In addition to being used as green manure and to protect the soil against erosion, oats can be sown with a perennial fodder, clover for example, which it will protect against weeds, wind, too hot sun , throughout its establishment.

Oats also have many industrial uses, notably for the manufacture of cosmetics, medicines, adhesives and abrasives. In the food industry, a gum is extracted from it, which serves as an antioxidant in butter, cream, confectionery and various other products, as well as as a thickener and stabilizer in cheese spreads. In addition, the straw extract is an insecticide.

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