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The new HiFi oat
cultivar is about 50 percent higher in beta-glucan than oats you'd buy at the
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New Heart-Healthy Oat Now Available
By Jan Suszkiw
February 6, 2006
Health-conscious consumers can now get more of the soluble oat fiber
called beta-glucan in their diets, thanks to a new oat variety developed by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and
North Dakota State University (NDSU)
Combined with a healthy diet, beta-glucan can help lower blood levels
of so-called "bad" cholesterol, diminishing the risk of heart disease. In
August, ARS and NDSU scientists published their joint registration of "HiFi," a
new spring oat bred specifically for increased beta-glucan content.
Doehlert, a cereal chemist with ARS'
River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, N.D., HiFi boasts 50
percent more beta-glucan than whole-oat products now sold in grocery stores.
This means a consumer could eat less of a whole-oat product made with
HiFi to get the same health benefit. Or, more of the food could be eaten to
gain even more of beta-glucan's benefits, according to Doehlert, in the ARS
Crops Research Unit.
Doehlert and Mike McMullen of NDSU have been cooperatively breeding
oats since 1993. During routine grain analysis, Doehlert noticed something odd:
One of the oat lines furnished by McMullen contained more beta-glucan than
The oat also had good agronomic characteristics and excellent disease
resistance, so its seed was made available for production in the northern
Plains region. There, farmers grow oats primarily to feed livestock, and they
prefer varieties with high fat content rather than high fiber.
Interest in HiFi for food products initially looked bleak, since such
oats are normally imported from Canada or oat-producing regions of the United
States other than the northern Plains. But health-label claims now permitted
for foods containing beta-glucan have rekindled interest in HiFi, according to
Doehlert. In fact, Organic Grain and Milling, Inc., of Hudson, Wis., is
negotiating licensing rights with the
NDSU Research Foundation to
market HiFi as an organic brand.
more about the research in this month's issue of Agricultural
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.