Article in Journal

Oats: nutritional uniqueness and breeding of a healthy superfood

Morcia, C., Finocchiaro, F., Delbono, S., Ghizzoni, R., Reggiani, F., Carnevali, P., Tumino, G., Carrara, I., & Terzi, V.

In Compendium of Crop Genome Designing for Nutraceuticals. Singapore: Springer Nature Singapore. pp. 153-193


December 15, 2023

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Oat, of Poaceae grass family, is an important multipurpose cereal, cultivated for grain, food, feed, fodder, and straw, alone, in mixture, or as a dual-purpose crop. This cereal ranks sixth in world production statistics, following wheat, maize, rice, barley, and sorghum. Recently, an increased interest in oat arose due to its unique health-related properties. This cereal produces valuable and unique macro-, micro-, and phytonutrients, is rich in soluble fibers (mainly β-glucan), polyphenols, galactolipids, and contains a relatively high quantity of protein. In addition, oat is an important source of phenolic acids being the only cereal that contains avenanthramides, a group of phenolic alkaloids with beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases and colon cancer prevention. Moreover, oat bran is an excellent source of B complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, and B6) and tocopherol (vitamin E). The lipidic amount of whole-grain oats is doubled compared with other cereals and mainly consists of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic, oleic, and linolenic acids. Considerable genetic resources exist with large collections of landraces, wild relatives, and cultivars; therefore, sources of genetic variation are available for breeding purposes. The traditional breeding has been directed to improve yield and agronomical traits, such as abiotic and biotic stress resistance, lodging resistance, growth habit, together with a few quality-related traits, namely protein and starch content. During the last years, oats turned out to be a very interesting source of dietary and curative compounds. This newly found interest shifted the breeding paradigm from agronomic to health-related purposes. New breeding programs are aiming to develop “specialized” genotypes with high levels of bioactive compounds, vitamins, dietary fibers, and oils.

This research output is related to

Spoke 04

Food quality and nutrition

To push towards sustainable and tailored food and nutrition

Lead organisationUniMi

Spoke leaderPatrizia Riso

Referred to

Spoke 04
Research projectPRO-MITIGATION

Cereal-based processed foods: mitigation of Maillard reaction unintended effects

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Principal investigators

Emanuele Marconi,Valeria Terzi

Referred to

Spoke 04