Avena sativa L.

Oat, is an annual cereal crop, grown, mainly in the temperate regions because it can tolerate very cold temperatures and very moist conditions. It’s grown for its edible starchy seed, also known as kernel or groat..

The oat grain has been a staple food in Scotland for years, but has mostly been used elsewhere, for animal feed and has gained very little popularity with consumers. Over the years, the interest in Oats has been growing because of highly publicized studies showing that oat bran can lower cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a low fat diet.

The grain also offers impressive levels of iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E and zinc.

Oats is also an excellent source of soluble and insoluble dietary fibre. The soluble fibre is mostly due to the presence of a complex carbohydrate called beta glucan, which is primarily responsible for lowering cholesterol levels. Oat bran contains more dietary fibre than oatmeal and other forms of oats, but all types of oat products have some bran since they are all processed from whole oat grains (groats) with the bran and germ intact.

Compared to other cereals, oat has a high protein content and a good amino acid profile, with a high level of lysine. It contains 50 percent more protein than bulgur wheat, and twice as much as brown rice. The proteins found in oat are: avenalin, which is 80 percent storage protein and avenin.

Of all the cereal grains, oats has the second highest lipid content after maize (corn), with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. The lipids are mainly found in the endosperm.

Oat Products

Once the oat is harvested in the field, it’s brought to the mill where it undergoes dehulling, which is the removal of the outer hull or chaff or husk, leaving behind the whole grain kernel or edible seed.

The whole grain kernel is known as groat and has the germ or embryo, outer rich bran and endosperm, intact. They are high in fat (lipids) and exposure of the grain to air can result in breakdown of lipids by lipolytic enzymes, which causes a rancid flavour. In order to stabilize, and prevent the kernels (grains) from going rancid, they undergo heat and moisture treatment to deactivate the lipolytic enzymes. This gives them a nutty flavour.

The groat can undergo milling, rolling or cutting, using steel blades, to produce different types of oatmeal, namely, steel cut oats, rolled oats also known as oat flakes, oat bran and oat flour (debraned and whole grain).

Since neither the bran nor the germ is removed from oats, almost all forms of the grain are equally nutritious. The oat bran is more nutritious.

Use of Oats

  • Oats are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and is is mostly eaten as hot oatmeal for breakfast.
  • It’s used in a wide variety of food products because it has a unique flavour, a high protein and fat content, compared to other grains, and moisture retention capabilities.
  • It’s used in the meat industry as an extender and as an ingredient in cold cereals, granola, and muesli, beverages, and baby foods.
  • It’s also used in baking oatmeal cookies, muffins, cakes and breads.
  • In Britain, it’s used for brewing a beer called oatmeal stout.
  • In Latin America, a cold sweet drink called Avena, is made from ground oats and milk.
  • In Ethiopia oat flour is made into ‘injera’ (pancake-like bread), ‘tella’ (local beer) and other products.
  • In industrialized countries oat grain mainly finds application as animal feed, especially for horses, but also for cattle, sheep, turkeys and other animals.
  • Oat straw is used as forage and in Ethiopia, it also serves as bedding for livestock, is used for fuel and roofing material for traditional houses It makes good hay and silage or is grazed by animals.

Last Updated: December 15, 2017

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

6 thoughts

  1. Must be the Scots blood coming out in me that I love oatmeal porridge! And bagpipes! I use oats in many ways, I add them to shortbread cookies, bread, hamburger patties, I use an oatmeal base for my mincemeat tarts this time of year, cutting out some of the fat from the pastry, and they sort of turn out like matrimonial cake a bit. I wonder where that name came from…..for those who aren’t familiar, its the date cake with top and bottom made from oats, flour, brown sugar and butter, with the cooked date base in the middle. I love it.

    I’m gazing out my window at greyness today. Very low cloud, rain, being driven by the wind and warm! 11 degrees C. Can you believe it? The rain is running in rivulets down my livingroom windows and actually making a pretty pattern. I guess we here in the northern climates should just put up and shut up about it, especially since it isn’t snow! Hope things are going well with you Liz. It’s such a busy time of year for everyone. Today is wrapping gifts day for me as I have to get some in the mail. I hope you are well and taking some time for yourself.

    1. Hi Sandy,
      I would love to try the matrimonial cake. Do you have the recipe? I’ve lots of dates right now.The kids are home for Christmas break right now. Today was rather cold but we’ll be in the double digits towards the end of the week. Can you imagine? No white Christmas. Great for me, sad for the kids who love rolling on the snow and making snow-men. Have a lovely weekend.

      1. I should be wishing you Merry Christmas and here it is New Years eve, so I will wish you Happy New Year. Alas, the Christmas season has come and gone and I am just now sitting down to take a breath. I laughed at your previous comment about watching star wars. I too binge watched the series over the holiday period so that when I see the new one I’ll be up to date again on who is who! Also watched the Mockingjay series with my sister who hadn’t seen it yet. Anyway, I will be off on my vacation as of next Wednesday so I have one more entry for my blog which I’m hoping to upload today. Be back in March and hopefully with some new projects. I will dig out that recipe and send it later today. Trying to catch up on some things…..it’s awful getting behind, I seem to get a bit of anxiety to finish things. I am having my granddaughter and her partner and the two children overnight, dinner tonight and then they are going to Vancouver for a couple of nights. Weather is promising cool temperatures but glorious sunshine for the next 3 days. Wishing you peace, happiness and beautiful days in the coming year. Happy New Year Liz.

        1. Thank you so much Sandy. I’m already having a good 2016 eating lots of vegetarian food. I ate too much meat over the holidays I think I must have added some 5kg or so which must be shed off by the time you come back from your holidays.
          We watched the new Star Wars in 3D, this week. There was a long line that evening and some people ahead of us were watching it for the third time. I probably can watch it twice tops. My son really loved it. He wants to watch it again and again.
          I hope you enjoyed the dinner. We are now preparing for school…, on Monday. The house will be nice and quiet again. I wish you a very fruitful and fulfilling 2016.

        2. Hi Liz, I’ve been trying to leave you a message with difficulty, but his time it’s working. My travel blog is swedenole.blogspot.com if you are interested. Back I go to catch some rays!

        3. Hi there Sandy. Thanks so much. I’ll check your blog right away. Lucky you going back to catch some rays. It has been snowing non-stop for two days. Roads are slushy and messy and it’s cold too (-11C). I wish you a very happy and successful holiday!!!

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