By-Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
Cereal grains feed a large population around the world. They constitute a significant part of daily diet of the consumers. Wheat, rice and maize are the leading grains in terms of consumption. These grains are consumed as whole or in fractionated forms. Oat remains an important cereal crop in the developing world and the most popularly cultivated species is Avena sativa L. and is trivially known as common covered white oat. Oat requires lesser nutrients (N-Sodium, P-Phosphorus and K-Potassium) to cultivate than that required for wheat or maize. (1)
Dietary fiber – which, for the most part, consists of carbohydrate polymers that are undigested by human enzymes – has never been formally proposed as an essential component of the diet. (2)
Oats (Avena sativa L.) have received considerable attention for their high content of dietary fibres, phytochemicals and nutritional value. It is believed that consumption of oats possesses various health benefits such as hypo-cholesterolaemic and anti-cancerous properties. Oats have also recently been considered suitable in the diet of celiac patients. Owing to their high nutritional value, oat-based food products like breads, biscuits, cookies, probiotic drinks, breakfast cereals, flakes and infant food are gaining increasing consideration. Research and development on oat and its products may be helpful in combating various diseases known to mankind. (1)
Nutritional Components of Oats
Oat has a well-balanced nutritional composition. It is a good source of carbohydrates and quality protein with good amino acid balance. Oat contains high percentage of oat lipids especially unsaturated fatty acid, minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals. (1)
What is Oat Fiber made of?
Grinding the hull or outermost protective layer of the oat grain makes oat fiber. The husk is considered a rich source of insoluble dietary fiber because it consists mainly of lignin, cellulose and hemi-cellulose. (3)
Functional Properties of Oats Fiber
The oat hull exhibits a higher TDF content (primarily insoluble fiber), arguably becoming the preferred raw material source for oat fiber manufacturing and ingredient development. Oat-hull fiber is used for dietary-fiber enrichment and as a multi-functional food ingredient. It acts as a water-activity modulator, bread-crumb humectant, texturizer, friability reducer in low-moisture baked goods, calorie controller, and more. From a physiological aspect, oat-hull fiber is recognized as an excellent participant in promoting gastrointestinal wellness, bulking in particular. (4)
Consuming oat fiber can be part of a high-fiber diet. Fiber contributes to weight loss because eating fiber increases satiety, which is the feeling of fullness. People can fill up on less overall food if the meal is high in fiber and may want to eat less frequently, thereby lowering daily calorie consumption.(5)
A high-fiber diet:
- Normalizes bowel movements. Dietary fiber increases the weight and size of your stool and softens it. A bulky stool is easier to pass, decreasing your chance of constipation. If you have loose, watery stools, fiber may help to solidify the stool because it absorbs water and adds bulk to stool.
- Helps maintain bowel health. A high-fiber diet may lower your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pouches in your colon (diverticular disease). Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet likely lowers the risk of colorectal cancer. Some fiber is fermented in the colon.
- Lowers cholesterol levels. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol levels. Studies also have shown that high-fiber foods may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- Helps control blood sugar levels. In people with diabetes, fiber — particularly soluble fiber — can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A healthy diet that includes insoluble fiber may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Aids in achieving healthy weight. High-fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. And high-fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and to be less “energy dense,” which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
- Helps you live longer. Studies suggest that increasing your dietary fiber intake — especially cereal fiber — is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.
“Oat Fiber is an effective way to boost fiber intake without consuming caloric value“