Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2017

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Food Science and Human Nutrition


Mary E. Camire

Second Committee Member

Kate Yerxa

Third Committee Member

Mona Therrien


With advances in medicine, changes in behavior, and ongoing public health efforts, people are living longer all over the world. In the United States, the state of Maine has the oldest median age. With aging, comes an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, which can lead to a decreased quality of life. Consequently, it is valuable to consider dietary changes that may reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as hypercholesterolemia, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Though the majority of older adults eat enough grain foods, most do not consume the recommended amount of whole, intact grains. Whole grains are beneficial for many reasons, one of which being the beta-glucan (β-glucan) content present in cereal grains like oats and barley. β-glucan soluble fiber can play a role in blood lipid and blood glucose management, important for controlling risk factors for diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus, respectively.

To attempt to overcome some of the barriers older adults face in consuming adequate intakes of whole grains, particularly oats and barley, a sensory analysis research project was developed. A total of 64 adults over the age of 50 were recruited to taste and evaluate four recipes using an electronic questionnaire. Participants were asked to answer questions about their health and current intake of these two grains, then samples were presented in a randomized order. Study participants rated the oat and barley-containing recipes using a 9-point hedonic scale to assess flavor, texture, appearance, and overall liking.

Study participants consumed oats more frequently than barley. Barley intake was very low across all participants. However, regardless of health status, participants generally reported being interested in increasing their intake of these cereal grains.

Mean hedonic scores revealed that subjects liked the two sweeter, oat-containing recipes (Strawberry Oat Smoothie and Banana Oats Squares) more than one of the more savory, barley-containing recipes, the Mushroom Barley Pilaf. This finding could be the result of their familiarity with oats, preference for sweeter foods, and perceived soft texture. The significantly lower scores for the Mushroom Barley Pilaf could be the result of a less desirable texture and less acceptable ingredients, such as mushrooms.

Overall, irrespective of health status, the majority of participants stated that they would be at least slightly likely to make the recipes, which were provided to them in a pamphlet, at home. Older adults may have general interest in nutritionally advantageous, functional foods.

For future investigation, the more acceptable recipes could be adapted for ease of preparation, suitability, and economic feasibility. Recipes could be applied in nutrition-focused cooking classes to increase community participation and improve consumer knowledge and confidence in their own food choices.