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Oats – Properties and health benefits / medicinal uses

As one of the most endowed grains when it comes to minerals, the medicinal uses of oats are outlined in this article.
Botanical name: Avena sativa L.
Other names: Steelcut oats, Rolled oats.
Oat is the fruit of the oats plant, Avena sativa L., a herbaceous and annual plant of the botanical family Gramineae. Oats are composed of a bran and a seed which makes it a grain.

Properties of oats

Oats are one of the most endowed grains when it comes to minerals. They are certainly among the top nutrient-rich grains in the world. Below are its properties:

● Oats contain carbohydrates in high amounts, it is the most abundant nutrient in oats. Carbohydrates in oats are easily assimilated and also absorbed slowly in the body (that is why they provide energy for several hours), this is due to the characteristic structure of the oat grain.
Starch form other sugars like maltose, dextrose and glucose are derived. All these are assimilated easily into the body and releases energy with almost immediate effect.
► Fructose – This is found in small amounts together with other carbohydrates. It does not require insulin before they are absorbed and utilized by the body cells. This property makes them highly tolerated by the diabetics.
► Mucilage – this is also a form of carbohydrate present in oats that has the propensity to retain water. This property makes it very suitable for those with gastritis and colitis.

● Oats are considerably rich in minerals, as they contain iron and phosphorus in very high amounts. The abundance of these two minerals in oats surpasses that of meat.

● Vitamins are not left out in oats, as they are contained in reasonable amounts. One of the vitamins that stand out in oats is vitamin B1, as is attributed to some of its medicinal benefits.

● Oats contain proteins in abundant amounts, representing about 17% of its total content. The proteins contains all the essential amino acids but not in the required proportions, moreover, oats contain a few amounts of lysine and threonine and have an excess amount of methionine. Likewise, legumes such as beans or lentils are very rich in lysine but lacks methionine. Due to this deficiencies on both hands, the combination of oats with legumes is highly recommended in order to supply the body with complete proteins.

● Fats are also found in oats, but in this case are of nutritional value. This is due to the fact that the fats are made up of about 80% unsaturated fatty acids and only about 20% saturated acids. This dominance of unsaturated fatty acids in oats, makes it to have a regulating effect on the synthesis of cholesterol.

● Another important component of oats is its vegetable fiber. This vegetable fiber is mainly found in its outer layer and its bran. It contains beta-glucon which is a soluble substance derived from cellulose. It helps lowers cholesterol levels due to its actions in absorbing and removing bile acids, which are the major components of cholesterol. Apart from its cholesterol lowering effect, it also acts as a mild laxative.

● Oats contain another important substance known as lecithin. This substance helps in lowering cholesterol level and also has some benefits to the nervous system. Another substance known as Avenasterol is present in oats, even though the substance is similar to cholesterol, it plays an interesting role by interfering with the absorption of main cholesterol.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of oats

The highly nutritious content of oats accounts for its medicinal value / benefits. Below are some of its medicinal indications:

Increased cholesterol
The presence of beta-glucan in the wheat bran of oats helps lowers the body’s cholesterol level. It helps eliminate the bile salts in the intestine which forms cholesterol as well as reduce the absorption of fats by the body.

Arteriosclerosis and hypertension
As seen from the properties of oats above, this property has been explained already. Several substances present in oats have been proved to fight cholesterol, an important cause of arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Thus, the regular consumption of oats is highly recommended in cases of both disorders. The consumption earlier stated above may be in form of treatment or as a preventive measure for both disorders.

Celiac disease
This disease is caused by an intolerance to a protein found in the gluten of wheat and other grains known as gliadin. Celiac disease is accompanied by a severe diarrhea and undernourishment. Oats, which contain gliadin in reasonable amounts is well tolerated by celiac disease patients. Thus, the consumption of oats can be of immense benefits to those suffering from this disease.

Nervous system disorders
The presence of some important substances in oats such as fatty acids, phosphorus, lecithin, vitamin B1, and glucose, enhances the functions of the nervous system. Additionally, presence of an important substance known as avenine in oats has a sedating effect on the nervous system (makes one more relaxed and calm).
The regular consumption of oats is highly recommended in the following cases:
► Fatigue and
► Depression.

Even though oats contains very high carbohydrate content, they still remain recommended to the diabetics. This is due to the carbohydrate content being dominated by fructose. Moreover, beta-glucan a substance found in oats bran, has been proved to greatly improve the tolerance of glucose released from starch during digestion of food materials.

● Digestive disorders – The mucilage present in oats accounts for this property. It possess a soothing effect, as well as ease digestion process. The consumption of oats in combination with either milk or broth is highly recommended in cases of:
Gastroduodenal ulcer
► Colitis and

Oat water as a medicine

Oat water can be prepared by placing two spoons of oats grain in one liter of water. This mixture is boiled for about five minutes then strained carefully. The resulting liquid may be sweetened with honey, this is optional. It can be consumed throughout the day.
Oat water has a stabilizing as well as an invigorating effect on the nervous system. Its consumption is highly recommended in cases of arterial hypertension and nervousness.

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About the author


Abbati studied Biological sciences at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy, Zaria. He loves learning about the medicinal properties of foods, and the need to explore them!


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