Submitted to: Oat Newsletter
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 26, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Oat is recognized as a nutritious cereal for humans and livestock. Oat has a high percentage of relatively well balanced protein and is high in oil and dietary fiber. It is a good source of certain vitamins and minerals, although for prepared breakfast cereals, fortification is usually practiced. The soluble fiber (beta-glucan) of oat is known to reduce cholesterol in humans, but also can cause some problems as a livestock feed especially for young poultry. Plant breeders are working to manipulate the beta-glucan levels of oat to create special purpose cultivars. The high oil concentration in oat, averaging about 6 percent, is a source of high energy but can lead to flavor problems in processed oat. Breeders have succeeded in almost tripling oil levels, and these high-oil genotypes could be developed into adapted cultivars if a demand for their use develops. Entries in the National Small Grains Collection, maintained at Aberdeen, Idaho, are being evaluated for their concentrations of protein, oil, and beta-glucan. The data are entered into the GRIN database. The current interest in dietary antioxidants has led to research characterizing the antioxidant activity and the spectrum of antioxidant compounds in oats, including phenolics and tocols. The potential for increasing antioxidant activity is yet to be explored. The development of new, higher yielding hulless cultivars may lead to new uses for oat as food and feed. Hulless oat has higher energy for livestock feed. The potential of a high-oil, hulless oat for aquiculture should be investigated. Exploratory work has addressed the feasibility of malting hulless oat for a food malt product. Possible new developments that might add nutritional value to oat are the introduction of genes for low phytic acid or waxy starch.