Sowing wild oats

There was an old tale about an Englishman travelling in Scotland with a party of friends.  He met a Highlander carrying a bag of oats and said, ‘In England we use those for feeding horses, but in Scotland they are eaten by men’.  ‘Yes,’ replied the Highlander, ‘and that is why in England you have such fine horses, and in Scotland we have such fine men’.

It was said that the strength and size of the Scotsman, his vigour of brain and body, and his capacity to withstand his climate probably depended on the excellence of oatmeal as a food and its richness in the substances needed to cope with cold weather.   Unfortunately probably far less Scots rely on oats these days for their staple diet. 

It’s now known that oats can be calming, lower cholesterol, are slow releasing, and good for digestion and a healthy immune system.

Abundant in nutrients

Epithets like soothing, restorative, protective, strengthening and nutritious sound like good adman’s copy, but they’re all true.  

• Oats contain silica for healing, potassium and magnesium,  Vitamin B and they are rich in protein. 
• They have more oil than other cereals particularly those grown in warmer climates, such as rice.  
• They release energy slowly because they are high in complex carbohydrates and soluble fibre, so a bowl of porridge in the morning keeps hunger at bay until lunchtime. 

A bowl of porridge used to be said to fill children  up on in the morning and make them big and strong!  And that is not mere myth – oats are particularly good for children as they help to build strong teeth and bones.  More recently it has been discovered that oats can also lower blood cholesterol, thereby helping to prevent heart attacks and disease. 

Calming and hypnotic

Their restorative properties are legendary, and a  good oat tonic can combat the after-effects of surgery, childbirth, serious illness and antibiotics.   Renowned for their sedative and hypnotic properties, they have been widely used in the treatment of addiction, particularly to nicotine and drugs.  They are safe to administer to children and can soothe a crying baby.  

The preponderance of Vitamin B in oats has revived interest in them and they have been used as the basis for tinctures (Avena sativa) and various flower remedies, particularly for people suffering from  nervous exhaustion  and depression.   Oats also have an excellent reputation as a skin cleanser, with balanced pH for sensitive skins – oatmeal soap, oatwash and compresses are good skin exfoliants.

Warm food for cold climates

Oats grow in cold climates and are prevalent in Scotland, Scandinavia and Canada.   The cultivated Avena sativa variety was undoubtedly derived from the common wild oat grass, which was found growing as a weed among fields of barley.    Oat grasses grow between two and five feet high, have soft hairy leaves and the grain is contained in a branching head with each ear hanging down on a thread-like attachment.

Until the 1st World War the world’s crop of oats was bigger than the wheat crop, but afterwards the crop dwindled and now wheat is much more prevalent.  The majority of oats go for livestock feed but plenty go into making rolled oats for porridge and cooking.  

Traditionally the Scots and others from cold climes ate oats as porridge, oatmeal and oatcakes.  The husk of the oats was too indigestible to make bread out of and oatcakes are of hard consistency.   The Scots have always favoured their porridge made with salt and water, while the English chose sugar and milk.   For those who want to eat their oats in a healthy way,  porridge can be mixed with fruit juices. 

The cholesterol connection

Oats contain a high percentage of protein of superior amino acid balance, compared with that of other cereals.  They are  high in lipids which are unsaturated and contain considerable amounts of the essential fatty acid, lineolic acid.  Of particular importance is the soluble fibre found in oats called beta-glucans which soak up fatty deposits during digestion, gradually helping to reduce cholesterol levels.

Featured products
Avena sativa tincture A. Vogel (Bioforce) 50ml £9.15
Avena sativa, organic (Oats) Viridian Nutrition 50ml £8.10
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Comments

  1. says

    Thats good to hear as I’m sitting eating my bowl of porridge this morning. Don’t know what made me think about researching the benefits of porridge this morning but I just thought i would check. Many thanks
    Karen

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