Oat products may be coeliac-friendly, scientists say

Friday, 20 May, 2022

Oat products may be coeliac-friendly, scientists say

A team of international scientists, led by researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU), the CSIRO and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, has decoded the oat genome and explained how the grain could be suitable for people with coeliac disease.

People with coeliac disease must avoid foods with gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat or rye, otherwise an immune reaction in their bodies will cause intestinal damage. Through the genetic decoding process, the scientists were able to understand why oats failed to trigger this immune reaction.

The research is important because in Australia and New Zealand oats are excluded from gluten-free diets, but the indication seems to be that sufferers of coeliac disease and gluten intolerance may be able to comfortably consume products with oats in them. According to the scientists, oats seem to be similarly safe as rice for coeliac disease sufferers, a crop that is deemed appropriate for gluten-free diets.

Having now decoded the oat genome, the researchers think that it should be possible to breed new forms of oats that are highly nutritious or grow in harsh conditions, making the cereal a highly attractive option.

Dr Angéla Juhász, from Edith Cowan University, said the findings could prove to be commercially important for the oat industry in Australia.

“The research conducted by ECU and CSIRO allows us to identify not only the proteins associated with gluten-like traits in oats but also characteristics which can increase crop yield, boost nutritional profiles and make them more resistant to disease and drought,” Juhász said.

“This can provide Australian growers with unique, differentiated grain to maintain Australia’s position as a supplier of premium, high-quality grain that delivers specific health benefits to Australians.”

The research was published in Nature.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Vladislav Noseek

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