Scientists are to investigate whether oats and barley grown in the northern UK are better at protecting the body against heart disease than those from the south.
They will examine whether colder temperatures boost the amount of cholesterol-lowering lipids in the crops.
The five-year study will also look at whether ancient varieties of the crops are more nutritional than modern ones.
Experts at the University of Aberdeen will compare oats and barley grown in Orkney with the same varieties grown in Dundee and Aberystwyth in Wales, to look at the effects of the growing environment.
Dr Karen Scott, from the university's Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, said: "We believe that the colder temperatures experienced in more northerly parts of the UK may enhance the nutritional values in oats and barley.
"The reasoning behind this is linked to molecules called lipids which these crops contain more of than other cereals. These molecules become saturated or unsaturated during the growth cycle, depending on the conditions in which the crops are grown.
"More unsaturated lipids are formed when colder temperatures prevail, conditions commonly found in more northerly areas, whilst more saturated lipids form under warmer conditions, typically found further south in the UK.
"Having more unsaturated lipids in our foods is better for the health as, when ingested, these lipids lower levels of the bad cholesterol in our bodies, which otherwise could lead to the development of cardiovascular disease."
Different varieties of the crops, particularly ancient strains of oats and barley, may offer their own health benefits.
Some of the nutrition in oats and barley may have been bred out amid the industrial revolution when the farming industry focused on getting the greatest yield from crops.
Dr Scott said this led to a preference for crops that yielded well and ripened early so they could be taken off the land before bad weather hit.
"We will be growing varieties of oats and barley, commonly found on our fields over 100 years ago but very rarely now, to compare the health benefits of these crops with more modern variations, to understand if their nutritional values differ," she said.
The study is part of several Scottish Government-funded projects at the Rowett Institute investigating the potential health benefits of Scottish produce.
This research is in a project also involving experts from the University of Aberdeen, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the James Hutton Institute.