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VTTs new method extracts more fibre from oat grains



Beta-glucan, the soluble fibre found in oats, is known to lower cholesterol. In turn, lower cholesterol levels help reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. VTT has developed and patented a method for producing oat fraction to be used as food additive. The method is economic and produces an oat fraction with a beta-glucan content of up to 35%.

In VTT's patented process, high beta-glucan content can be reached in the process that uses dry fractionation techniques, such as milling, air classification and sieving. The high fat content of oat is an important factor in fibre separation. VTT’s process overcomes this problem by removing fat using supercritical CO2 extraction before dry fractionation. VTT has developed this technology together with MTT Agrifood Research Finland. Production of fractions high in beta-glucan has traditionally involved a process whereby the fibre is first extracted with water or ethanol and then dried. Compared to these wet processes, the process developed by VTT and MTT saves both water and energy.

According to the scientific panel of the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, a minimum of 3 grams of beta-glucan is needed daily for an effect on the blood serum cholesterol level. Thus, a fibre fraction with high beta-glucan content yields an important benefit: a relatively small amount of fibre fraction is sufficient for reaching the desired beta-glucan content, which helps control the cost of the final product. Another benefit is that the product will contain less quickly soluble starch and more fibre, which helps improve product quality.

The same method can be used to produce protein concentrate, too

In addition to beta-glucan, a protein concentrate with a protein content of over 70% has been extracted from low-fat oat. Thanks to its high protein content, a very small amount of the concentrate is sufficient in food products. The protein concentrate can be used to improve the nutritional and sensory value of different products. The concentrate is truly unique because traditional milling techniques produce significantly lower protein content. Oat protein is a welcome addition to the current protein concentrate offering; plant-based protein products have so far been produced from only a few plants, most typically soy. The protein structure of oats is of nutritionally high value. This makes the protein concentrate suitable for various applications, such as sports drinks and vegetarian meals.

VTT is progressing development the production process of beta-glucan and protein concentrate further. Our new partners include two German companies: NATECO2 GmbH in Wolnzach and Hosokawa-Alpine AG in Augsburg. In addition to the further development of the fractionation process, our product development efforts focus on controlling the molecular size of beta-glucan and on utilising new low molecular weight fibres in liquid foods, such as drinks.