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Our work in the media: blueberries and oats

Dr Julie Graham was interviewed at Castleton Farm
"As less than 10% of UK blueberry consumption is home grown, and with the massive increase in demand, breeding varieties suited to our weather is a tremendous opportunity.

The science of the James Hutton Institute continues to attract the interest of the media. This time, Dr Julie Graham and Professor Derek Stewart were featured in the latest season of BBC programme Harvest, in which they discussed research on blueberries and oats, as part of the programme’s coverage of harvests in Scotland and the north of England.

In a segment filmed at Castleton Farm near Laurencekirk, Dr Graham briefly described work undertaken at the Institute to develop blueberry varieties suited to Scotland’s climate. “Blueberries have not been developed for Scotland’s weather. They’ve come from North America so they’re used to warmer climates. What we’re doing is take as many different blueberry varieties as we can and grow them in Scotland and across the UK to find the plants that grow well, to then use them as parents in a breeding programme.

“If we can identify what genes in the blueberry are responsible for flavour and then follow those genes into a new blueberry variety, then we can be much more specific about what we’re breeding. As less than 10% of UK blueberry consumption is home grown, and with the massive demand that we have in the UK for blueberries, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Later in the programme, and from David Hay's cereal farm in Easter Rhynd,  Perthshire, Professor Stewart illustrated the many health benefits of oats. “They are chock full of fantastic things. Vitamins, minerals that the body needs – but the main thing, which it’s actually got a legally approved health claim on, is a natural polymer called beta-glucan. And what it does is that it can lower your body’s cholesterol level, and by doing that, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Cholesterol in the body produces bile acids, which are needed for digestion, so when they’re secreted during digestion, they get meshed up in the beta-glucan of your porridge, and so the body cannot reabsorb them and has to use yet more  cholesterol to produce more bile acids so your level just goes down. The other benefit it also has is that it makes you feel fuller for longer,” he explained, illustrating through a simple experiment how beta-glucan in oats forms a viscous compound when mixed with hot liquids.

The programme can be viewed on iPlayer (UK only) until 13 November. Dr Graham’s interview comes from 18 mins 24 secs into the programme and Professor Stewart speaks from 45 mins 26 secs in.

More information from: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

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Printed from /news/our-work-media-blueberries-and-oats on 17/09/19 11:35:10 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.