How to lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease with oats

Oats have been a go to breakfast food for decades as they provide a full full stomach and promote strength an energy to get you through your day. But oats have more benefits than you may know. Here are some tips on how to lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease with the help of oats.

How to lower cholesterol and lower the risk of heart disease with oats

Nutrients in oats

Oat bran is high in beta-glucan, a soluble fibre that can help lower blood cholesterol levels, thus possibly reducing the risk of heart attacks.

  • To reduce blood cholesterol by roughly five percent and lower heart attack risk by about 10 percent, a person needs to eat three grams of beta-glucan a day. This amount of beta-glucan is found in 250 grams (one cup) of cooked oat bran, 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) of cooked oatmeal or three pouches of instant oatmeal.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the first food-specific health claim for use on oatmeal labels, stating, "Soluble fibre from oatmeal, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease." Some studies have shown that oats not only lower LDL cholesterol but may also boost levels of the protective HDL cholesterol.

Heart-healthy benefits

Regular consumption of oatmeal may reduce the risk of heart disease in women in other ways than through cholesterol reduction.

  • The Nurses' Health Study found that those who ate oatmeal five or more times per week had a heart disease risk reduction of 29 percent. The authors suggest that there is more to this effect than just the soluble fibre. Antioxidants found in oats may also play a role.
  • Oats contain a unique blend of antioxidants, including the avenanthramides that prevent LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) from being converted to the oxidized form that damages arteries.
  • Yale researchers have found that eating a large bowl of oatmeal may improve the harmful reduction in blood flow that may happen after eating a high fat meal.
  • Oats can also reduce blood pressure. A study in Minnesota looked at a group of people who were taking medication for high blood pressure. Half of them were asked to consume about five grams of soluble fibre per day in the form of 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) of oatmeal and an oat-based snack, while the other half ate cereals and snacks with little soluble fibre. The people who were consuming the oats showed a significant reduction in blood pressure.
  • Oats also have been shown to reduce both blood sugar and insulin levels, an important asset in controlling diabetes. Human studies confirm that oat-soluble fibre reduces after-meal blood sugar and insulin in both healthy and diabetic people.
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