Whole-grain oats have been identified as a type of food that blunts blood glucose increase after a meal. However, processing of oats changes the physical characteristics of the grain, which may influence human glycaemic response. Therefore, the effect of different processes on acute postprandial glycaemic response, quantified using glycaemic index (GI) measurements, was investigated in a systematic review. A review of the literature identified twenty publications containing fifty-six individual tests. An additional seventeen unpublished tests were found in an online database. Of the seventy-two measurements included in the review, two were for steel-cut oats, eleven for large-flake oats, seven for quick-cooking (small flake) oats, nine for instant oatmeal and twenty-eight for muesli or granola. One granola measurement was identified as an outlier and was removed from the statistical analysis. In all, fifteen clinical tests were reported for rolled oat porridge that did not specify the type of oats used, and thus the effect of processing could not be assessed. Steel-cut oats (GI=55 (se 2·5)), large-flake oats (GI=53 (se 2·0)) and muesli and granola (GI=56 (se 1·7)) elicited low to medium glycaemic response. Quick-cooking oats and instant oatmeal produced significantly higher glycaemic response (GI=71 (se 2·7) and 75 (se 2·8), respectively) than did muesli and granola or large-flake oatmeal porridge. The analysis establishes that differences in processing protocols and cooking practices modify the glycaemic response to foods made with whole-grain oats. Smaller particle size and increased starch gelatinisation appear to increase the glycaemic response.
Keywords: GI glycaemic index; Glycaemic index; Glycaemic response; Oats; Processing; Whole grains.