The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health in Aberdeen is currently seeing if oats and barley grown in the north of the UK reduce the risks of cholesterol.
Researchers think the nutritional benefits of grains depend on where they are grown – and the Scottish climate “enhances” the benefits of crops.
The study is analysing oats and barley grown in different parts of the UK.
This includes grains of the same type from Orkney, Dundee and Aberystwyth in Wales.
Dr Karen Scott, one of the Rowett scientists involved in the project, said: “We know that whole grains like oats and barley are good for our health.
“Our study is investigating whether certain growing environments optimise the nutritional benefits.
“We believe the colder temperatures in northerly parts of the UK may enhance the nutritional values in oats and barley.”
Oats and barley were chosen as they are thought to contain more lipids than other cereals.
Lipids are molecules that affect how the body stores its energy from food.
Dr Scott explained: “These molecules become saturated or unsaturated during growth – more unsaturated lipids are formed amid colder temperatures.”
A higher count of unsaturated lipids helps to lower levels of cholesterol that could lead to heart disease.
In December the same research institute embarked on a study to see if porridge and oatcakes reduce heart disease as they produce healthy bacteria in the gut.