Oats have been cultivated for two thousand years in various regions throughout the world. Before being consumed as a food, oats were used for medicinal purposes, a use for which they are still honored. The growing of oats in Europe was widespread, and oats constituted an important commercial crop since they were a dietary staple for the people of many countries including Scotland, Great Britain, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. In the early 17th century, Scottish settlers brought oats to North America. Today, the largest commercial producers of oats include the Russian Federation, the United States, Germany, Poland and Finland.
Scores of studies have documented the many health benefits of oats. Eating oats helps lower LDL "bad" cholesterol and may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Oats help you feel fuller longer, which helps control your weight. Oatmeal and oats may help lower blood pressure. Oats may help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, since their soluble fiber helps control blood sugar. Oats are high in beta-glucans, a kind of starch that stimulates the immune system. Oats are higher in protein and healthy fats, and lower in carbohydrates than most other whole grains. They contain more soluble fiber than any other grain.