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Brave the Cold Weather with Oats!

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Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Oats are a cold-weather comfort food; a steaming bowl of oatmeal or handful of homemade oatmeal cookies is just the thing to provide fuel for braving the wintery elements.

Researchers at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s (AAFC) Guelph Food Research Centre (GFRC) have discovered that oats are high in slowly digestible starch, meaning that eating oats helps to keep you feeling fuller longer. More specifically, the beta (β) glucan, the major soluble fibre found in oats, slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. The slower digestion rate maintains the levels of hormones associated with satiety, or fullness.

This new discovery complements oats’ recognition as a critical part of a heart healthy and cholesterol-lowering diet and as a whole grain known to be high in protein, minerals and beneficial oils. Oats are a healthy comfort food!

“The β-glucan in oats is quite an amazing fibre. It is a very long flexible molecule that dissolves in the stomach. The molecules get tangled up like strings producing a thick, viscous mass, which makes you feel full longer. The effect is to slow everything down, including absorption of cholesterol and sugar.”

– Dr. Susan Tosh, Lead Research Scientist, Food Biopolymers, GFRC

For those who may be worried about eating a few too many treats, Dr. Tosh suggests incorporating oat bran into your diet as it is higher in fibre and lower in calories than oatmeal, making it a good alternative!

AAFC has led a number of large projects relating to oats over the past 20 years, including the effect of oat β-glucan on starch digestion rate. Studies have been conducted in partnership with Health Canada and the Ottawa Civic Hospital, as well as with the University of Toronto, concerning oat foods and glucose absorption rate (glycemic response).

Scientists at the GFRC work with industry and other partners to improve food safety and investigate innovative food products. The centre is part of AAFC’s extensive network of research centres across the country that conduct studies to ensure Canadian crops and foods are among the safest in the world.

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Oats are just the thing to help fuel your day.

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