PepsiCo’s Quaker Oats division has created a new center dedicated to oat research and innovation in a bid to “elevate the relevance and benefits of oats through science, agriculture and innovation”.
The Quaker Oats Center of Excellence – a new cross functional entity - will help product formulators at Quaker Oats use the latest scientific research on oats to develop innovative new oat-based products, said Dr Marianne O'Shea, director of the new center.
She added: "Oat science has already revealed important benefits such as heart health and satiety, but we've only scratched the surface when it comes to the power of the oat and all it can do.”
Oats can also help address the whole grain deficit in the American diet, said the firm, which will maintain an Advisory Board for the new center comprising experts in nutrition science, agricultural science and sustainability, product innovation and consumer insights.
“According to the Whole Grain Council, the average American eats less than one daily serving of whole grains, and some studies show that more than 40% of Americans never eat whole grains at all.”
Aside from their nutritional benefits, oats also conferred environmental benefits “by minimizing erosion and requiring less tilling, preserving water as they flourish with less water than most crops and helping protect the earth by reducing the need for herbicides by developing a dense cover that shades competing weeds”, claimed the firm.
“In addition, Quaker Oats by-products are used as a renewable energy source instead of coal at The University of Iowa. The agricultural sustainability of the oat will be another area explored by the Center.”
Heart health, weight management, digestive health
Fiber-rich oats are best known for their cardiovascular health benefits as the FDA has approved claims that soluble fiber from whole oats can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
But they are also claimed to help people manage their weight by forming a viscous gel in the stomach that delays stomach emptying, making you feel full longer.
As oat beta glucan is not digested in the small intestine and is available in the large intestine for ‘good’ bacteria to feed on, it is also being promoted by some firms as a prebiotic.
Oat beta glucan is one of only a handful of ingredients to secure positive opinions from the European Food Safety Authority, which has given the thumbs up to claims about cholesterol reduction, post prandial glycemic response and increased fecal bulk.
Health Canada has also recently approved claims about oat beta glucan and cholesterol reduction.