One of the recent products of South Dakota State University’s oat breeding program is named Shelby427, described as a “racehorse oat” that packs a lot of nutrition for high-performance horses — or ordinary horses, for that matter.
“It’s not only for racehorses. But it has a lot of what they need,” said Lon Hall, project leader for SDSU’s oat breeding program.
But crafting oat varieties with high protein and high test weight suitable for horses and other livestock isn’t the only priority for plant breeders. Horses are having to make room at the trough for humans as scientists continue to learn more about the health benefits of oats in human diets.
Professor Padmanaban Krishnan, a cereal chemist in SDSU’s Department of Health and Nutritional Sciences, says oat bran became something of an industry fad in the late 1980s. Interest is at a healthier level now as scientists look more specifically at the components in oats that give the grain its healthful properties.
“The industry went slightly overboard. There was too much oat bran in a variety of products, and not a standardized oat bran,” Krishnan said. “The interest is still high now. There is a considerable body of animal and human clinical studies that show the health effects.”
In fact it’s easy to sell consumers on oats once they learn the benefits, Krishnan said. “It’s a very tasty cereal grain. It has high-quality protein, a good combination of amino acids and minerals, and the fiber in oats is 50-50 soluble and insoluble, half and half. Very often we find dietary fiber in cereal grains and legumes, but it may be more toward the insoluble fiber,” he said. “In oats we also have something called beta-glucans.”
Beta-glucans help make up the soluble fiber that helps lower cholesterol.
“We don’t know the exact mechanism but we do know that cholesterol reduction occurs. Beta-glucans give oatmeal its unique mouthfeel. The cholesterol-reduction mechanism we associate with beta-glucans could be due to a combination of viscosity effects and binding effects on bile salts in the gut. If bile salts are bound and then removed continually, this leads to a reduction of cholesterol in the blood,” Krishnan said.
There’s also growing interest now in a group of compounds called avenanthramides that are known to have a role in fighting atherosclerosis, or the thickening of the artery walls due to the build-up of fatty materials such as cholesterol.
“Avenanthramides function as anti-oxidants in our cells once they’re consumed and absorbed by the body,” Krishnan said. “We know that these plant compounds have health attributes or disease-prevention attributes. They may maintain the integrity of cell membranes, they may retard cancer production or slow it down considerably.”
Scientists have some indications that if a plant is stressed due to environmental growing conditions, or if they are responding to certain diseases, there may be elevated levels of avenanthramides. There may also be a genetic component in what makes varieties higher in avenanthramides. That gives plant breeders such as SDSU’s Lon Hall some avenues to pursue, Krishnan said.
“Lon Hall’s idea is produce varieties that have enhanced levels of avenanthramides and then ultimately to include that in our food system,” Krishnan said.
One of Hall’s projects is to come up with an oat variety that combines high levels of avenanthramides with high beta-glucan levels for an oat that is very heart-healthy — a variety that would be clearly aimed at the human consumer.
National Agricultural Statistics Service data show that acres of oats harvested hit a peak in 1921 at 45.5 million acres and has been in steady decline since then, down to about 1.3 million acres in 2010. Yields have soared, but there’s clearly much smaller demand for oats now than in the past.
“I think in the future we are going to see an increased interest in oats for human consumption as people learn more about the health benefits of avenanthramides in addition to the beta-glucans,” Hall said.
Krishnan adds that increasing the knowledge about the benefits of oats in human diets could pay off for the producers who grow for that human market.
“Generally, when you go from animal feed to human food in terms of end use, you see a tenfold increase in economic value of the grain,” he said.Lance Nixon
Lance Nixon | Newswise Science News
Six-legged livestock -- sustainable food production
11.05.2017 | Faculty of Science - University of Copenhagen
Elephant Herpes: Super-Shedders Endanger Young Animals
04.05.2017 | Universität Zürich
The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.
The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences
29.05.2017 | Life Sciences
29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy