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This article reposted as an English translation from: CBC Originally published October 6, 2022

A study on the health benefits of oats taking place in Manitoba is looking at the effects of this cereal on lowering cholesterol and on blood sugar levels. Producers estimate that positive results could make it possible to increase the area devoted to the production of this cereal.

Dr. Thomas Netticadan, team leader at the Canadian Center for Agri-Food Research in Health and Medicine and professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Manitoba, confirms that animal tests carried out over the past few months are conclusive.

An oat protein was isolated and given as a drink to obese rats in experiments performed in a laboratory at St. Boniface Hospital.

Oat protein has not only been observed to lower risk factors like cholesterol and blood sugar in his animals, but it also protects the heart, its structure and cardiac function , explains Dr. Netticadan.

Over time, in these animals, heart structure and function become abnormal, and oat protein was able to prevent the development of heart complications. This is therefore another very interesting result of our study.

The research team is currently analyzing the results in greater depth to write a scientific paper for peer review, says Dr. Joseph Sijo, an Agriculture Canada researcher and professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Manitoba. He hopes the article will be published by early 2023, followed by the next step which is to test on humans to further validate the findings.

Dr. Joseph Sijo, an Agriculture Canada researcher and professor in the Department of Food and Nutrition Sciences at the University of Manitoba.

If all goes according to plan, the researchers would like to get a certification from Health Canada that says oat protein is good for maintaining healthy blood pressure or even says oats are good for controlling your blood sugar response , launches with enthuses Joseph Sijo.

He recalls that Health Canada has already authorized the statement: Oat fiber helps reduce/lower cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease , found on the Government of Canada website.

Dr. Sijo also points out that with their sedentary lifestyle, Canadians are at increasing risk of developing diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia.

The Prairie Oat Growers Association recently secured $106,000 from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to fund this study. The chairman of the board of directors of the Manitoba branch of the association, Yves Lapointe, hopes that the scientists will arrive at results that will improve the health of Canadians.

He also hopes that the study’s findings will provide additional impetus for farmers who produce oats.

We want to find new markets and spread our oats for global products. If you find added value in oats, that will help our industry enormously. We will be able to sell more oats and increase our acres in Canada , says Mr. Lapointe. He explains that Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta produce 90% of Canada’s oats.

Mr. Lapointe says farmers grew oats in huge quantities in the 1950s and 1960s. Interest in the cereal subsequently declined because there were fewer products to be made from oats” he points out.

However, he says that for the past few years, the level of oat production has been on the rise due to healthy protein trends, which is explained in particular by oat milks for those who are vegan.

In September 2022, Statistics Canada predicted a harvest of over 4.6 million metric tonnes of oats nationwide for the current year. For comparison, in 2016, the oat harvest was 3.2 million metric tons.
In 2020, Canadian oat exports were valued at $465 million, according to a press release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Government of Canada invests in food research to support disease prevention –