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February – March 2020, vol. 9, no. 4
pages: 756-760
Article type: Food Sciences of Food Sciences
DOI: 10.15414/jmbfs.2020.9.4.756-760
Abstract: Oat is a cereal grain that is known for its good nutritional composition with extra benefit of the β-glucan as dietary fiber. It is one of the major crop that is grown in different countries as by product or for non-food use. Now researchers and scientists have discovered its phenomenal properties that tends to help the human beings to combat with the ailments. Further, it also act as preventive measure to cure starting point of some chronic diseases such as heart diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes and cancer. Moreover it also acts as antimicrobial, antioxidant and reduces the blood cholesterol level. There is a tremendous increase in the number of oat products in the market that can soon take over the traditional products. These products include whole products, breakfast meals, flakes, porridge, bread, bars, drink like oat milk and yogurt like fermented commodities. Based on these beneficial effects and increasing demand, oat is of major interest for commercial production of novel food products.
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Saniya Ramzan


Oat is a cereal grain that is known for its good nutritional composition with extra benefit of the β-glucan as dietary fiber. It is one of the major crop that is grown in different countries as by product or for non-food use. Now researchers and scientists have discovered its phenomenal properties that tends to help the human beings to combat with the ailments. Further, it also act as preventive measure to cure starting point of some chronic diseases such as heart diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes and cancer. Moreover it also acts as antimicrobial, antioxidant and reduces the blood cholesterol level. There is a tremendous increase in the number of oat products in the market that can soon take over the traditional products. These products include whole products, breakfast meals, flakes, porridge, bread, bars, drink like oat milk and yogurt like fermented commodities. Based on these beneficial effects and increasing demand, oat is of major interest for commercial production of novel food products.


β-glucan, antioxidant, LDL cholesterol, body mass index, probiotic


Avena sativa: common name oat, oat meal, avena, groats, straw, haber and hafer, family poaceae, genus Avena was originated from European countries. Afterwards, it is now cultivated throughout the world. Avena is derived from the Sanskrit word “avi,” means “avasa” or “sheep” is the denotation of “food stuff”. A. Sterilis is the wild species of A. sativa that is naturally present in the Crescent of the near East. Oat is generally considered derived from a weed of wheat and barley as secondary crop leading to its ultimate domestication. Oat has been cultivated for 2000 years in different areas worldwide. United Nations Food and Agriculture organization (FAO STAT, 2014) stated that throughout the world oat production was approximately 25.8 million metric tons (mmt). Russia was the top producer with 5.8 mmt production with further production in various countries as Canada  with 4.2 mmt, U.S. with 1.3 mmt, Poland and Finland with 1.2 mmt, Australia with 1.2 mmt, Ukraine with 0.9 mmt while Germany, Belarus, and China with 0.8, 0.6, and 0.4 mmt production respectively. Avena sativa commonly known as white oats and Avena byzantine as red oats are the two cultivars that are commonly cultivated throughout the world but Russia, the European countries including Poland and Finland, Canada, USA and Australia are the major producers (Daou & Zhang, 2012).

Normally in countries like Pakistan, it has mostly non-food use such as animal fodder. Furthermore, its straw is incorporated in many proucts formation including bio-mass, fiber, building board, mulch, mattresses stuffing material, thatching, and paper-making. Oat straw extract prevents the striped cucumber beetle feeding. While, oat hulls are utilized in manufacturing of a chemical intermediate namely furfural That is used for the preparation of rubber tread constitutions, butadiene, lubricating oils, phenolic resin glues, and nylon,. It is also important in the composition of cellulose pulp, construction boards, and breweries filter. Now there is increased trend oat usage for food in addition to medicinal purposes as well (Singh et al., 2013).

It has a number of unique properties that makes them different from other cereal grains. As for instance, their hull is separate from endosperm that contains higher fat content among cereal grains. It is also known for its high percentage of soluble dietary fibers. The outer layer is a good source of neutral lipids, protein, phenolics, β-glucan and niacin. The groat is a complex structure having three distinctive regions namely bran, endosperm and germ. These fractions are acquired during oat milling (Gates & Dobraszczyk, 2004). The endosperm part of the grain is about 80 percent and out of that the inner endosperm part contains starch, proteins, lipids and β-glucan. The germ portion is about 3.7 percent of groat that consists of mainly proteins, hydrolytic enzymes and lipids. This portion is known for the better storage stability. The oat bran portion has high amount of β-glucan and now due to that fiber content it is becoming a commercial source of β-glucan that helps in lowering of blood cholesterol (Gangopadhyay et al., 2015). β-glucan is non-starch poly-saccharide that comprise of D-glucose monomer units connected by β-glycosidic bonds. (1,3)(1,4)-β-D-glucan (Fig 1.) is present in endosperm and sub-aleurone part of oat seeds. It is soluble and fermentable fiber that is found to be 3-8g in oat (Khoury et al., 2012). Oat is a uniquely nutritive food due to an excellent profile of lipid. The lipid exists as lipid bodies, similar to emulsion droplets, surrounded by proteins and phospholipids. These lipid bodies with proteins can be extracted from oats by salt and water addition to obtain oat milk (Decker et al., 2014).

The health benefits of dietary fiber have led to in its use in all food product categories. That includes production of many by extruded product’s processing where expansion provides textures to make the food crispy and appetizing (Moraru & Kokini, 2003). Oat contains rich protein contents. It is only cereal comprises of legume-like protein or globulin that is avenalin (80%) as its main storage protein. Moreover, other cereal proteins present are zein and gluten with minute contents of avenin. According to WHO, oat and soybean proteins are nearly correspondent to eachother in quality that are equivalent to egg, milk and meat protein. Furthermore, avenanthramides, tocols, flavonoids, lipids, alkaloids, sterols and saponins are also present in it. Oat in early ages was used in the treatment of insomnia, nerves weakness and nervous exhaustion. They were reflected as cyanogenetic, antispasmodic, demulcent, antitumor, diuretic, stimulant, neurotonic, vulnerary and tonic (Singh et al., 2013).


Hypocholesterolemic activity and cardiovascular ailments

Oat products have an effect of lowering the cholesterol level in normal and hypercholesterolemic patient. It causes a significant reduction in Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) (Truswell. 2002). LDL normally called as bad cholesterol due to its moveability in blood vessels and it can stick to the walls of artries causing blockage for blood circulation. Oat soluble fiber with low saturated fat ans choleterol diet has proven to be effective for hypercholestremic and diabetic patients in lowering LDL concentration up to 5-10% (Khoury et al., 2012). According to a study by oat Anderson et al., 2009 β-glucan helps to reduce up to 5.5 percent serum LDL cholesterol level that leads to the reduction of cardiovascular disease probability approximately 7 to 11 percent. While other studies like Martensson et al., 2005 and Kearney et al., 2011 have also supported the fact that oat based products e.g. oat based fermented product using Pediococcus parvulus helped in lowering the serum cholesterol. The mechanism behind bringing down the serum cholesterol by oat β-glucan is that it helps in the lowering of bile acid reabsorption that ultimately ends in the increament of Bile acid excretion in feces. That promotes more bile acid production by the liver utilizing cholesterol in the serum (Fig. 1) (Yao et al., 2006).

Figure 1 Oat beta-glucan binds with bile acid causes removal of bile acid from body leads to cholesterol conversion into bile acid. End result is lower cholesterol level in body. (mechanism of cholesterol lowering ability of oats)

Furthermore, eating of high fiber foods, i.e., oat results in the prevention of heart disease (Djousse & Gaziano, 2007). FDA have approved the beneficial health effects of oat bran fiber, soy protein and psyllium fiber that is associated with the prevention and cure of coronary heart disease (CHD) (FDA, 1997, 2008, 2017a,b). So, intake of dietary fiber is helpful in reduction of blood pressure. It is recommended for hypertensive persons to take up high amount of such fiber either from natural source or its supplements (Anderson et al., 2009).

Antineoplastic behavior

Whole-grain food consumption results in lowering the risk of cancer. Selenium is used in DNA repairing which is affiliated with less threat of cancer i.e., colon cancer. Soluble dietary fiber enhance the fermentation process in the large bowel, boosts growth and colonization of probiotics and thus facilitates in the excretion of nitrogen by faeces (Anderson et al., 2009). Moreover, β-glucan acts as antitumor and anticancer by just not only destroy tumor cells but also modulate the lymphocytes (natural killer cells) neutrophils and other constituents of immune system (Fig. 2) (Hong et al., 2004). The neutrophils (white blood cells) are the first line of defense of the body is involved in this antitumor activity. The combination of β-glucan with other antibodies activate the neutrophils to search and bind with the tumor that starts destroying the tumor. But normally these neutrophils cannot recognize the cancerous cells (Daou & Zhang, 2012). Furthermore, β-glucan was also helpful in significantly increasing monocyte multiplication and activation in persons suffering from breast cancer (Demir et al., 2007).

Figure 2 β-glucan activate macrophages that helps in the cytotoxin chemical release either by T lyphocytes or lytic enzymes. These chemiclas destroy tumor. (anticancer mechanism)

Antidiabetic activity

Oat β-glucan has the power to lower the glycemic response. The Glycemic index (GI) is an indicator that shows the consumption of carbohydrate can increase the blood glucose level that ultimately is the cause of development of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disorder. A class of food that is referred as functional food with low GI helps to protect the persons from the danger of such diseases. That includes oat because its bran is known for lower in cholesterol and high in β-glucan (Jenkins et al., 2002).  Another study by Wood, 2007 had revealed the relation between the oat β-glucan with glucose and insulin in human body. As the β-glucan create a viscosity that affects the glucose and insulin linearly in a highly significant way. The way of oat lowering the blood glucose level is multiway mechanism by converting glucose into glycogen and increase the glucose uptake by body for its breakdown as energy source (Varma et al., 2016) (Fig. 3). Further, due to its linear and unbranched molecules chain it can make a highly viscous solution. That leads to the delayed gastric emptying and subsequently lower enzyme diffusion. Hence this will increase the muscular cells to uptake more glucose for utilization and lowering the blood glucose level. Another way to lowering blood glucose in the body is short chain fatty acids formed as resultant of the fermentation of beta-glucan. Insulin responsive glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) is increased by these short chain fatty acids that affect the glucose-insulin homeostasis (Khoury et al., 2012).

Figure 3 Oat working as antidiabetic: mechanism

Antioxidant potential

Oat exhibits a good antioxidant activity. Mostly, polar phenolic compounds present in oat exhibits antioxidant ability. Most of the antioxidants like tocols, sterols, phytic acid and phenolic compounds are present in the outer portion of the grain. Their ability is to protect the food by preserving its color, taste and preventing the rancidity. Furthermore, they are known for their involvement in various biological responses such as anti-inflammation, anti-oxidation, anti-carcinogenic and anti-allergic. Oat contains avenanthramides, phenolic acids and flavonoids as phenolic compounds (Xu et al., 2009). Novel oat products are taking control over the market of functional foods for their ability of having bioactive compounds that exhibit antioxidant activity. Free radicals present in the body can act as damaging entity by starting chain reactions and affect the cellular components and DNA of the cell. Antioxidants act as hindrance for them by neutralizes them (Fig. 4) and prevent their activity (Tiwari & Cummins, 2009).

Figure 4 Antioxidant neutralizes free radical preventing chain reactions: mechanism

Weight management

Oat contains β-glucan that is involved in reduction of Body mass index (BMI) and body weight considerably. A Continual oatmeal intake reduces the obesity probability (Artiss et al., 2006). Anderson et al., 2009 have reported during his studies that there was a significant impact of oat consumption on Chinese residents to lower their BMI, blood pressure and Serum HDL and LDL cholesterol values. The mechanism behind this phenomenon is that dietary fiber present in oat absorbs water, swell and increase its volume. That increased volume affects the satiety of the individual by distension of stomach (Daou & Zhang, 2012) (Fig. 5). This increased viscosity also results in the slow digestion, delay of gastric emptying and lower nutrient absorption such as glucose. This makes the low enzymatic activity leads to the satietal sensations. Moreover, there is an inverse relationship found between the satiety and palatbility. Fiber-rich meals have lower palatability that
will lead to early satisfaction of consumer and ultimately lower body weight (Khoury et al., 2012).

Figure 5 Mechanism of weight management by dietary fiber present in oat

Celiac and Gastrointestinal disease

Celiac disease is a disorder of the small bowel that is activated by exposure to gluten. Chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and abdominal distention are listed among its indicators. It can be cured or avoided by using gluten free food products. Oat is a gluten-free food component. The celiac disease patients can tolerate oat meals which is also high in fiber contents (Holm et al., 2006). Moreover, its dietary fiber helps to improve bowl movement and further beneficial bacterial proliferation in the gut. That helps to improve the celiac health of an individual. Ulmius et al., 2011 supported the fact by outcome of his study that β-glucan cannot be hydrolyzed by any enzyme in human beings so this remain intact in small intestine that ultimately results in increasing the viscosity of the area. The soluble and non-soluble fiber contents make oat a useful product for the prevention of many diseases, such as colon diseases. Moreover, these fiber acts as prebiotic that can help in the growth of beneficial microbes in the intestine. These bacterias are also heplful in further prevention of diseases (Butt et al., 2008).

Mental performance

The extract of wild green oats helps to enhance the learning, alertness and concentration during mental stress conditions (Singh et al., 2013). Advanced studies on oats have shown that extract of green oats are helpful in improvement of human mental health. During an experiment a single oral dose that extract increase the theta electric brain activity in human beings that shows the indication of cognitive alertness. Such potential cognitive betterment shows the improved attentive behavior of a person and avoidance of distraction in attention and the ability to ignore distraction. Normally, the chronic effect of oat extract is more effective on persons with or at risk of mild cognitive disorder (Wong et al., 2012). Furthermore, the bioactive component of oat includes avenanthramides (bioactive compounds unique in oats) results the alleviated nitric oxide (NO) production in smooth muscles of human aorta. It inhibits nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) activation that suppresses inflammatory cytokines. These mechanisms ultimately cause vasodilation in arteries of cerebral area (Mozolic et al., 2010). Brain activity is associated with oxidative cell stress. This can be implicated as stress and anxiety including neuropsychiatric disease (Bouayed et al., 2009). Immature oat seeds can help for the cure of tension and anxiety: acute or chronic (Abascal and Yarnell, 2004). Studies done by Berry et al. 2011 showed beneficial effects of oat extracts on the elderly people of Australia with mild cognitive disorder during clinical trial conducted. The results showed better ability of people to focus and concentrate on task. Similar findings were also reported for the clinical trial of UK people by Kennedy et al. 2017.

Bactericidal activity

Avenacin, is a potential microbial growth inhibitor that is normally isolated from the root portion of oat plant (Singh et al., 2013). β-glucan present in oat is also reported to act as antibacterial by taking it intramuscularly/ intravenously/ orally it work on bacterial clearance by eliminating them. This antibiotic potential is influenced by increased cytokine production hence increasing the monocytes and neutrophils. The results of some studies made it evident that oat β-glucan taken orally imparted potential effects on HSV-1 respiratory infectious patients and also effective against macrophage antivirus. The mode of action of oat β-glucan as anti-microbe is by humoral immunity that is cellular and antigen specific. Hence oat provides resistance against many bacterial and other parasitic infections (Daou & Zhang, 2012). The beta-glucan present in oat can stimulate cellular immune system and increases humoral immunity. This results in the betterment of immune cells function and response to the bacterial attack (Vetvicka et al., 2007). Moreover, it also boosts the macrophages activity and helps in activation of neutrophils to act as antimicrobial cells (Zekovic et al., 2005). During a study on mice, Cheol-Heui et al., 2003 showed that β-glucans extracted from oats increased phagocytes activity and proved to be protective against Staphylococcus aureus and Eimeria vermiformis.

Healing of wounds

During a study, oat flour activity was assessed on experimental models of wound healing. The results of the study recommended the ability of oat to induce the cellular responses involved in wound healing (Singh et al., 2013). Moreover, other studies have also shown that oat has antitumor, antibacterial and wound healing functional bioactive compounds (Ohno et al., 2001).

Cure of other ailments

It acts as nerve stimulant as green tops of oats extract is proved to be effective for supressing opium and tobacco obsession. Moreover, oats were used to make insomnia and anxiety condition better by using them during bath. It is used to treat a number of skin conditions like burns and eczema. Patients suffering from cutaneous xerosis can be cured by lotion containing colloidal oat meal. During clinical trials, this lotion helped in the improvement of the problems including scaling erythema, pruritus, scratching wounds and lichenification (Pacifico et al., 2005; Reynertson et al., 2015). Oat used in the water during bath is beneficial for skin softening owing to its soothing effect. The seeds of oat are traditionally used as medications for tumors. Furthermore, oat straws are useful in rheumatism e.g., tea made from oat is functional in rheumatic problem and treatment of water retention (Singh et al., 2013).


Oats are processed to obtain various types of products or parts depending on their need. Such as ‘Whole oat’ that has a tough outermost hull which should be separated for human dietary usage. While ‘Groats’ are hulled oats that has hard inedible outer layer removed but the outer bran layer of kernel remain unimpaired from oat grain. Furthermore, ‘Coarse/cut groats’ are steel-cut oats, and also referred as pinhead oats, coarse/rough oatmeal, that can be obtained using steel cutters for groats which cut down into 3-4 pieces. Grouts steaming and flattening results in the product namely ‘Rolled oats’. Like wise, ‘Instant oats’ are made as rolled quick cooking oats but these are more thinly rolled and steamed for increased time duration. Oat flour is final product that is acquired by oats grinding. Three grades are available for oat flour based on its fineness: fine, medium and coarse (Winfield et al., 2007).

Oat is now more famous for its beneficial effects among the people and they want it in their products. Hence, the industrial and commercial products containing oat are now present in the market vastly. It is commonly used in porridge. A deviation in porridge is due to fermentation with lactic acid bacteria. Oat flakes as breakfast meal is also popular that are present alone or in mixture of oat and other cereals. Oat meal is the form of oat cereal product which is usually used as breakfast product. Furthermore, the popularity of oat consumption necessitates its incorporation into mainstream food products such as bread. The oat bread is currently wheat bread with up to 30% oats added in it (Gates & Dobraszczyk, 2004). Moreover, energy booster bars in corporation of oat with other cereals is also very common now-a-days. Oat cake is a UK based product.

There is an increasing trend of not only eatable products that contain oat but also drinkable products containing oat are making their way to the market and consumer need. As oat milk is a milk substitute used widely now-a-days due to increasing consumer demand. People are more conscious about their diet (Deswal et al., 2013). Water soluble extracts obtained from legumes, cereals, oil seeds or pseudo-cereals that are similar to milk by appearance are plant-based milk substitutes. Usually preparation of these alternatives is completed by the extraction of plant material in water and then solids are removed. Afterwards, homogenization and heat-treatment is applied to it for stablized product formation. The end product is the suspension of extracted plant material & its ingredients such as hydrocolloids and oils. Now-a-days their trend is increasing due to people’s awareness about their diets, as a lifestyle choice or for medical reasons such as cow’s milk allergy, lactose intolerance etc. Over the last 2 decades, the utilization of cereal milks in the Western world has increased due to the increased health awareness of consumers and the minimization of off-flavors (Mäkinen et al., 2016). Cereal milk obtained by enzymatic hydrolyzing is a potential source of fat, protein and antioxidants (Suphamityotin. 2011). The cereal and grain milks are cholesterol and lactose free in comparison to bovine milk. So, they are an attractive substitute for bovine milk. Moreover, non-dairy vegetarians do also emphasis on its use rather than dairy or cultured dairy products (Durand et al., 2003). Oat milk bars are also produced from the oat milk. Another product that is under tremendous observation of scientists is oat based yogurt like fermented product is developed using lactic acid bacteria which has high beta-glucan contents (Martensson et al., 2001). Oat milk helps to extravagant probiotic products that add nutritional and functional characteristics to cereal (Butt et al., 2008). Another product yogurt containing oat as additives in it is also produced for the consumers with high fiber content. To substitute the fat in low-fat meat products, oat fiber is most effective to mimic fat character (Havrlentova et al., 2011). Today’s society has more number of persons suffering from fatigue and burnout. So, finding solutions other than antidepressant that are from natural sources is more beneficial. In the Asian countries there are a number of products that are available in the markets containing oat targeting mental health and cognitive problems (Abascal and Yarnell, 2004).


Oat is one of the gifts from our God that has phenomenal constituents that can be helpful in different conditions. Not only in non-food use but it has also outcaste the other cereal grains by acting as functional food. The FDA approved its usage for the beneficial effects on coronary heart disease patients.  Furthermore, it is also helpful in the prevention of other diseases such as diabetes, skin problems, obesity, cancer and gastrointestinal diseases etc. Now people are more aware about their health and are conscious about their life style hence there is an increased demand of oat products and is increasing day by day. Most of the products are available in market and more are to come in near future due to keen interest of scientists in oat and its properties. Due to the tremendous beneficial chracteristics, oat and its products will be prefered by consumers rather than the staple food products and can lower the burden of the main food commodities of the area.


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