The Role of Oat Nutrients in the Immune System: A Narrative Review

Nutrients. 2021 Mar 24;13(4):1048. doi: 10.3390/nu13041048.


Optimal nutrition is the foundation for the development and maintenance of a healthy immune system. An optimal supply of nutrients is required for biosynthesis of immune factors and immune cell proliferation. Nutrient deficiency/inadequacy and hidden hunger, which manifests as depleted nutrients reserves, increase the risk of infectious diseases and aggravate disease severity. Therefore, an adequate and balanced diet containing an abundant diversity of foods, nutrients, and non-nutrient chemicals is paramount for an optimal immune defense against infectious diseases, including cold/flu and non-communicable diseases. Some nutrients and foods play a larger role than others in the support of the immune system. Oats are a nutritious whole grain and contain several immunomodulating nutrients. In this narrative review, we discuss the contribution of oat nutrients, including dietary fiber (β-glucans), copper, iron, selenium, and zinc, polyphenolics (ferulic acid and avenanthramides), and proteins (glutamine) in optimizing the innate and adaptive immune system's response to infections directly by modulating the innate and adaptive immunity and indirectly by eliciting changes in the gut microbiota and related metabolites.

Keywords: fiber; human; minerals; polyphenols; protein.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Avena / immunology*
  • Diet / methods*
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology*
  • Nutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutrients / immunology*


  • Dietary Fiber