Difference Between Oats and Wheat

Main Difference – Oats vs Wheat

A cereal is an actual grass primarily cultivated for the edible starch components of its grain. Botanically, this grain is a type of fruit known as a caryopsis and it contains three parts; namely, the endosperm, germ, and bran. It belongs to the monocot family Poaceae and is grown in larger quantities and provides more food energy and carbohydrate for the entire world than any other type of crop. Wheat and oat are commonly consumed cereals in the world and they are considered as staple crops. They are a rich source of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) as well as bioactive phytochemicals (polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, carotenoids etc.). Although both oat and wheat belong to the cereal group, Wheat is a Triticum genus crop whereas oat is an Avena genes crop. This is the main difference between oats and wheat.  Wheat (Triticum spp.) and oat (Avena sativa) have different sensory and nutritional properties and this article explores the difference between oats and wheat.

What is Wheat

Wheat is a cereal grain and it is the third most-produced cereal after maize and oat. This cereal is cultivated on more land area than any other commercial food crops. Worldwide, wheat is the leading source of protein in the human diet, having a higher protein than other major cereals such as maize or oat. Wheat is a principal food used to produce flour for leavened bread, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles and for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages, and biofuel. During the refining and polishing process, after the nutrients accumulated in the bran and germ are removed, the remaining endosperm mostly contains carbohydrate. The white flour is the result of this process and bran and germ are by-products.The wheat grain is a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals, and protein while the refined grain is mostly concentrated in starch.

Main Difference - Oats vs Wheat

What is Oat

Oat belongs to the grass species Avena sativa and as a cereal grain, it is one of the most widely consumed food for a large part of the world’s human population. Oat-based popular human foods include oatmeal or rolled oats. In addition, oat feed is also used as a food for animals such as horses, cattle and it is also used as a food ingredient for domesticated animals such as cats and dogs. Oat diets are highly recommended to cardiovascular disease risk persons because it can lower the harmful LDL cholesterol in the blood. Oats is sometimes referred to as corn (staple diet) in Scotland.

Difference Between Oats and Wheat

Difference Between Oats and Wheat

Oats and wheat may have substantially different properties and applications. The differences between oats and wheat may include,

Scientific Name

OatAvena sativa

Wheat: Triticum aestivum

Scientific Classification


  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Genus: Avena
  • Species: sativa


  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Poales
  • Family: Poaceae
  • Subfamily: Pooideae
  • Tribe: Triticeae
  • Genus: Triticuma


Oats: The varieties of oat are characteristically categorized based on the weight and color of the grain.

Wheat: Wheat is classified into 6 groups and they are hard red winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, durum (hard), hard white, and soft white wheat. The hard wheat is rich in gluten and is used for making bread, rolls, and all-purpose flour. The soft wheat is used for making flat bread, cakes, pastries, crackers, muffins, and biscuits.


Oats: In 2013, world barley production is 20,732 in thousand metric tons. Thus, worldwide oat production is lower than wheat.

Wheat: In 2013, world wheat production is 713 in million metric tons. Thus, worldwide wheat production is greater than oat.

Production Countries

OatsThe highest consumption and production were recorded in Russia, Canada, Poland, Finland followed by Australia (2013).

Wheat: The highest consumption was recorded in Denmark, but most of this was used for animal feed. The biggest wheat producer in 2010 was the European Union, followed by China, India, USA, and Russia.

Parts of the Grain

Oats: Major parts of the grain include the endosperm, bran, and germ.

Wheat: Major parts of the grain include the endosperm, bran, and germ pericarp, aleuronic layer, scutellum, and germ.

Energy Content

Oat: Oat contain 1,628 kJ per 100g. (Contain more energy compared to wheat)

Wheat: What contains 1,368 kJ per 100g. (Contain less energy compared to oat)

Health Concerns

Oat: Oat is considered as a healthy food. It has following health benefits;

  • According to the folk medicine, it helps to maintain the regular menstrual cycle, treatment for dysmenorrhoea and for osteoporosis and urinary tract infections
  • It has LDL cholesterol-lowering effects and reduces the risk of heart disease

Wheat: Wheat can cause Coeliac disease, wheat allergy, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, gluten ataxia and dermatitis herpetiform.

Gluten-free Diet

Oats: Some varieties of oat are deficient in gluten protein and is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.

Wheat: Wheat is not suitable for people on a gluten-free diet.

Starch Content

Oats: The starch content of oat is around 66%, which is lower than wheat.

Wheat: The starch content of wheat is around 70% which is lower than oat.

Protein Content

Oat: Oats contain more protein content (17%) compared to wheat.

Wheat: Wheat contain less protein content (12%) compared to oat.

Gluten Content

Oats: Some varieties of oat are deficient in gluten protein and cannot be used to produce bakery goods.

Wheat: What contains gluten protein and strong and elastic gluten present in wheat enables bread dough to trap carbon dioxide during leavening. Therefore, wheat flour is a key ingredient in bakery products.

Selenium Content

Oat: Oat is deficient in the essential mineral selenium.

Wheat: Wheat is rich in selenium compared to oat.

Genetic Disorders or Allergic Reactions

Oats: This contains the chemical compound known as Avenin which is toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive people, and can cause a reaction in celiac disease.

Wheat: Wheat gluten protein can cause allergic reactions in some individuals and also leads to coeliac disease. Coeliac disease is caused by an adverse immune system reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein originates in wheat.


Oat: Oat grain is mainly used for followings;

  • Rolled or crushed into oatmeal and use for congee preparation
  • Ground into fine oat flour and use for baked goods, such as oatcakes, oatmeal cookies, and oat bread
  • It is also used for animal feed as an extra carbohydrate source
  • Production of different beverages such as beer, Oatmeal stout
  • Soothe skin conditions production

Wheat: Used for human consumption, food products processing such as bread, biscuits, cookies, cakes, breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, couscous. Raw wheat can be ground into semolina or germinated and dried to create malt. Wheat also used for fermentation to make beer, other alcoholic beverages, and biogas and biofuel production. It is used for forage crops for domesticated animals like cows and sheep.Difference Between Oats and Wheat - infographic

In conclusion, both oats and wheat are the world’s more favored staple foods. They are major diets component because of these plants’ agronomic adaptability and offers easiness of grain storage and easiness of converting grain into flour for making edible, palatable, interesting and satisfying foods. Furthermore, oats and wheat are the most important source of carbohydrate and protein in a majority of countries.


Cauvain, Stanley P. and Cauvain P. Cauvain. (2003). Bread Making. CRC Press. p. 540. ISBN 1-85573-553-9.

Belderok, Robert ‘Bob’, Mesdag, Hans, and Donner, Dingena A (2000), Bread-Making Quality of Wheat, Springer, p. 3, ISBN 0-7923-6383-3.

Moon, David (2008). In the Russian Steppes: the Introduction of Russian Wheat on the Great Plains of the United States. Journal of Global History, 3: 203–225.

Oat is Life (PDF). Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. 2004.

Juliano, Bienvenido O. (1993). Oat in human nutrition. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Gauldie, Enid (1981). The Scottish country miller, 1700–1900: a history of water-powered meal milling in Scotland. Edinburgh: J. Donald. ISBN 0-85976-067-7.

Image Courtesy:

“wheat” by هارون يحيى – Own work, (CC BY-SA 4.0), via commons.wikimedia.org

About the Author: admin