Oats contain high levels of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Numerous studies showed that a diet high in beta-glucan from oats help to lower blood LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol). Oats may also help stabilize blood glucose levels, which may benefit people with diabetes. Studies show that in people with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day typically lowers total cholesterol by 8 to 23 percent. 3 g of soluble oat fiber can be found in just one bowl of oatmeal – it can be that easy!
FDA approved Oat Health Claim
In 1997, the FDA authorized coronary heart disease risk reduction health claim for beta-glucan soluble fiber from oat products. To qualify for this health claim, a food product must contain at least 0.75 grams of beta-glucan soluble fiber from oats per serving. Food products containing oat bran and rolled oats, such as oatmeal, and whole oat flour can bear this health claim.
Other Food Sources of Beta-Glucan Soluble Fiber
- Soluble Fiber
- Dried beans and peas
- Flax seed
- Fruits such as oranges and apples
- Vegetables such as carrots
- Psyllium seed husks
Oats Key Message: In addition to beta-glucan soluble fiber, oats also contain avenanthramides (a type of antioxidants). Preliminary studies showed that avenanthramides help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol.
The US government published the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans in January 2005. One of the new guidelines recommends that all adults eat half their grains as whole grains – that’s at least 3 servings of whole grains such as oats and whole wheat a day. To increase intake of oat products, try the following:
- Have a bowl of oatmeal with nuts or fresh fruits as breakfast
- Add oat flour or whole oats when you make breads and muffins
- Sprinkle oat brans on cereals or salads
- Oats: Health Benefits and How-To
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- Not All Fiber Is Good As It Seems – Podcast
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- The Myth of Cholesterol – Seafood?
Gloria Tsang is the author of 5 books and the founder of HealthCastle.com, the largest online nutrition network run by registered dietitians. Her work has appeared in major national publications, and she is a regularly featured nutrition expert for media outlets across the country. The Huffington Post named her one of its Top 20 Nutrition Experts on Twitter. Gloria’s articles have appeared on various media such as Reuters, NBC & ABC affiliates, The Chicago Sun-Times, Reader’s Digest Canada, iVillage and USA Today.