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Oat Oil Gives Bread a Soft Touch / September 29, 2000 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Oat Oil Gives Bread a Soft Touch

By Ben Hardin
September 29, 2000

Read the label on bread made in the United States and you’ll likely find vegetable shortening and other additives among the ingredients that increase loaf size, improve texture and lengthen shelf life. A smidgen of oat oil could do the same thing and may make bread more heart-healthy.

Oat oil is rich in phospholipids and glycolipids, also called polar lipids, says Douglas C. Doehlert, a cereal chemist with the Agricultural Research Service at Fargo, N.D. This type of oil combines with water to lubricate bread dough to help it rise evenly and bake into a loaf that is uniformly soft and springy, even after several days of storage.

For people who would rather avoid eating vegetable shortenings, which contain trans fatty acids that have been associated with heart disease, bread made with oat oil or its components could be an alternative dietary staple.

In one experiment at North Dakota State University, Fargo, Fulbright scholar Sofia V. Erazo and Doehlert compared bread formulations made with either 3 percent crude oat oil or the same amount of vegetable shortening. In each case, loaf volume, appearance and resistance to staleness proved the same.

But the researchers also found they could achieve the same result by replacing the vegetable shortening with just 0.5 percent polar lipids taken from the oat oil. Polar lipids worked better in bread made from hard red winter wheat flour--the flour from which most bread is made--than in bread from more costly hard red spring wheat flour. Doughs made from hard red winter wheat flour need less shortening to increase loaf volume, because of their high gluten content.

Presently, the most highly valued major component of oats is the bran. Oat oil comprises about 6 percent of most dehulled oats but is now rarely sold as a commercial product. This research could potentially lead to a new market for oats.

ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Scientific contact: Douglas C. Doehlert, ARS Red River Valley Agricultural Research Center, Fargo, N.D., phone (701) 239-1413, fax (701) 239-1377, doehlertd@fargo.ars.usda.gov.

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