common oat (Avena sativa) is a species of cereal grain grown for its seed,
which is known by the same name (usually in the plural, unlike other
grains). While oats are suitable for human consumption as oatmeal and
rolled oats, one of the most common uses is as livestock feed.
Oats have numerous uses in food; most commonly, they are rolled or crushed
into oatmeal, or ground into fine oat flour. Oatmeal is chiefly eaten as
porridge, but may also be used in a variety of baked goods, such as
oatcakes, oatmeal cookies, and oat bread. Oats are also an ingredient in
many cold cereals, in particular muesli and granola. Oats are also
occasionally used for brewing beer.
Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat. Its consumption is believed to
lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and possibly to reduce the risk of heart
Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain, resulting in slower
digestion and an extended sensation of fullness. One type of soluble fibre,
beta-glucans, has proven to help lower cholesterol.
Oats are the only cereal containing a globulin or legume-like protein,
avenalin, as the major (80%) storage protein. Oat protein is nearly
equivalent in quality to soy protein which is supposed to be equal to meat,
milk, and egg protein.
Coeliac, or celiac disease, is often associated with the ingestion of
wheat, or more specifically, a group of proteins labeled prolamines, or
more commonly, gluten. Oats lack many of the prolamines found in wheat;
however, oats do contain avenin. Avenin is a prolamine that is toxic to the
intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, and can trigger a
reaction in these coeliacs.
Oat grass has been used traditionally for medicinal purposes, including to
help balance the menstrual cycle, treat dysmenorrhea, and for osteoporosis
and urinary tract infections.