Oats and Health

Intake of oat β-glucan is linked to two specific physiological responses:

1) a reduction of blood cholesterol levels (see section Cholesterol)

2) a reduction of blood glucose rise (see section Glycaemic response)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved in 1997 a health claim for β-glucan soluble fiber from oats for reducing blood cholesterol levels and risk of coronary heart disease (link). In 2011 the European Commission allowed the following health claim (Art. 14(1)) foods which provide at least 1 g β-glucan per quantified portion (3 g/day) "Oat β-glucan has been shown to lower/reduce blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease" (link). Most recently in 2012 European Commission also approved a health claim (Art. 13(1)) for consumption of β-glucan for reduction of the blood glucose rise post-prandial glyceamic response (link). In order to obtain the reduced blood glucose rise 4 g of β -glucans from oats or barley for each 30 g of available carbohydrate in a quantified portion should be consumed as part of the meal.

In addition to cholesterol lowering and glycaemic response effect there is data available on the immunostimulation properties of oats and effect of oats on the gut health.

Oats have also been approved by the European Commission (2009) as an ingredient in gluten-free labeledproducts (if cross-contamination from wheat, barley and rye can be avoided and the gluten content of the oat products remains below 20 mg/kg).