Oats have long been recognized as having superior quality among cereals with respect to protein and lipid
composition as well as soluble dietary fibre (β-glucan). The microstructure and chemistry of oats influence oat quality,
and thus are determinants of the end products derived from oats. Light and scanning electron microscopies have been
used to elucidate microstructure and nutrient distribution in oats. The influence of variation in these parameters on oat
quality can be demonstrated, from milling through to oat products for consumption. Milling quality is determined in part
by hull architecture. SEM examination of oat hulls can help predict ease of dehulling, which affects the efficiency and
economics of oat milling. In addition to protein and lipid, β-glucan is an important nutritional component of oats.
Fluorescence microscopy can reveal both the relative amount and distribution of β-glucan in oat kernels. Consumption of
oats or oat products containing β-glucan has been shown to have beneficial effects on carbohydrate and lipid
metabolism. These health benefits have generated a demand for new and palatable ways to incorporate oats into the diet
as consumer demand increases. To help meet this need, we have been investigating the use of micronized naked oats as a
whole grain to be cooked and consumed as a rice alternative. Different varieties of naked oats had dramatically different
acceptance levels from a sensory panel. SEM of the pericarp, light microscopy of the endosperm, and analyses of starch
properties of the different varieties revealed differences that corresponded with sensory data.