Submitted to: Food Science Food Technology and Nutrition Encyclopedia
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2000
Publication Date: 1/15/2003
Citation: HARELAND, G.A., MANTHEY, F.A. OATS. FOOD SCIENCE FOOD TECHNOLOGY AND NUTRITION ENCYCLOPEDIA. ACEDEMIC PRESS, LONDON. 2003. PP. 4213-4220.
Technical Abstract: Oat is a multipurpose crop that has been grown throughout the world for centuries, generally in cool moist climates. Archaeological discoveries have traced oat back to the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese from the first century, but the grain may have originated in areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in countries of the Middle East. The world oat crop is diverse and includes thousands of commercial cultivars that are grown for multipurpose use. Oat has traditionally provided an inexpensive source of on-farm livestock feed, forage, and bedding. Approximately 70% of the world production of commercially grown oat is used for livestock feed, 20% for human food, and 5% for industrial usage. More than half of the oat crop never leaves the farm where it is produced. Oat is oftentimes grown as an alternate crop to break cycles of soilborne insects and crop diseases. Unlike most other cereal crops, oat has remained at a relatively low market cost and has been confined to growing on marginal soils associated with poor drainage and low fertility. The demand for high-quality oat for human consumption has increased in recent years. Studies have shown that oat is nutritious and contains physiologically active fiber components that aid the process of digestion. Oat bran has been reported to have positive effects on lowering serum cholesterol levels in humans. Compared with other cereal grains, however, the functional properties of oat have not been well defined. Breeders can now evaluate gene combinations by using genetic mapping methods to study the world oat collections from which the functional and nutritional merits of oat protein, oil, starch, and bran components will be better understood.