Porridge was among foods eaten in a pilot trial
Researchers are trying to better understand how eating porridge, oatcakes and muesli could help people with type 2 diabetes.
Sixty volunteers are being sought to eat an oat-rich diet in trials funded by £200,000 from the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government.
Scientists based in Inverness and Aberdeen believe the cereal can help control the side effects of type 2.
These side effects can lead to killer illnesses including heart disease.
The project is a partnership involving the prospective University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI), the University of Aberdeen and the Rowett Institute, which conducts nutrition research in Aberdeen.
Testing will be held over 16 weeks in a purpose-built unit at the Centre for Health Science in Inverness.
OATS FACT FILE
Oats are a low GI (glycaemic index) food product.
The carbohydrates they contain are broken down more slowly and glucose is released gradually into the bloodstream.
The new research is exploring indications that oats also have an anti-inflammatory effect, and this could be significant for the 75% of diabetes sufferers who are likely to die from cardiovascular problems.
They are prone to internal inflammation of the blood vessels which can lead to serious problems with their circulation and heart.
Led by Professor Sandra MacRury, clinical professor at the UHI Department of Diabetes and Cardiovascular Science in Inverness, the project will look at the immediate effects of an oat-rich diet.
Volunteers will eat a variety of test meals containing oats and results will be compared with a standard diet.
The longer-term impact will also be assessed in the trials.
Professor MacRury said: "The aim is to develop new dietary plans which could improve diabetes control, delay the need for people with type 2 diabetes to start tablets or insulin to control their blood sugar, and potentially reduce the risk of some of the complications of diabetes."
Aberdeen-based research fellow Dr Susan McGeoch will also be working on the project, and has identified products and recipes which have a high oat content.
People who took part in a pilot trial ate specially-baked oat bread, oatcakes, porridge, muesli and cereal bars, and used oats in stews.
Dr McGeoch said: "It is known that people with type 2 diabetes have a higher rise in their blood sugar levels following a meal than someone without diabetes.
"This rise in the blood glucose seems to be associated with a rise in the levels of inflammation in the body and it is thought that this rise in inflammation can lead to an increased risk in some of the complications of diabetes such as heart attacks and strokes."
She added: "We know that different foods produce different changes in the blood glucose following a meal and we aim to find out whether an oat-rich diet can lead to better levels of blood glucose following a meal, and whether this is linked to improvement in the levels of inflammation."