Impact of oat processing on glycaemic and insulinaemic responses in healthy humans: a randomised clinical trial

Br J Nutr. 2019 Jun;121(11):1264-1270. doi: 10.1017/S0007114519000370. Epub 2019 May 9.


Oats can be processed in a variety of ways ranging from minimally processed such as steel-cut oats (SCO), to mildly processed such as large-flake oats (old fashioned oats, OFO), moderately processed such as instant oats (IO) or highly processed in ready-to-eat oat cereals such as Honey Nut Cheerios (HNC). Although processing is believed to increase glycaemic and insulinaemic responses, the effect of oat processing in these respects is unclear. Thus, we compared the glycaemic and insulinaemic responses elicited by 628 kJ portions of SCO, OFO, IO and HNC and a portion of Cream of Rice cereal (CR) containing the same amount of available-carbohydrate (23 g) as the oatmeals. Healthy males (n 18) and females (n 12) completed this randomised, cross-over trial. Blood was taken fasting and at intervals for 3 h following test-meal consumption. Glucose and insulin peak-rises and incremental AUC (iAUC) were subjected to repeated-measures ANOVA using Tukey's test (two-sided P<0·05) to compare individual means. Glucose peak-rise (primary endpoint, mean (sem) mmol/l) after OFO, 2·19 (sem 0·11), was significantly less than after CR, 2·61 (sem 0·13); and glucose peak-rise after SCO, 1·93 (sem 0·13), was significantly less than after CR, HNC, 2·49 (sem 0·13) and IO 2·47 (sem 0·13). Glucose iAUC was significantly lower after SCO than CR and HNC. Insulin peak rise was similar among the test meals, but insulin iAUC was significantly less after SCO than IO. Thus, the results show that oat processing affects glycaemic and insulinaemic responses with lower responses associated with less processing.

Keywords: CR Cream of Rice; GI glycaemic index; HNC Honey Nut Cheerios; IO instant oatmeal; OFO old fashioned oatmeal; RGR relative glucose response; RIR relative insulin response; SCO steel cut oatmeal; avCHO available carbohydrate; iAUC incremental AUC; inc2h increment at 2 h; Blood glucose; Dietary carbohydrates; Dietary fibre; Insulin; Oat β-glucan.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Area Under Curve
  • Avena / metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Edible Grain / metabolism*
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Glycemic Index / physiology*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Meals / physiology
  • Oryza / metabolism
  • Postprandial Period


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin