The Power of Oats
What could be better in the morning than having a fresh steaming bowl of delicious cooked oatmeal? Oatmeal is not just a delicious breakfast cereal; it is also a form of nutritious food which is readily available all throughout the year. Oats get their distinctive flavour from the roasting process that they succumb to after being harvested and cleaned. Oats are not stripped away of their bran and germ in this process, thus allowing them to retain their fiber and nutrients.
There are many health benefits brought about by oats. One is through lowering cholesterol levels. Oats is the perfect food for those with heart disease and diabetes. This is because oats, oat bran or oatmeal contain beta-glucan, a certain type of fiber with certain benefits on cholesterol levels. There are some studies which have found out that people with high cholesterol who consume about 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. High cholesterol contributes much to the development of plaques on blood vessels. If these plaques become damage or grow large, they can block blood vessels and rupture to cause a heart attack. Thus eating oats lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Aside from its cholesterol-lowering effects, oats also contain antioxidant compounds called avenanthramides that help eliminate free radicals from the body. This substance also helps protect LDL cholesterol against oxidation and can further protect against atherosclerosis. Avenanthramides also prevents the release of too much inflammatory mediators that are damaging to cells.
Eating oats could also prevent against heart failure. This is because this food can reduce the risk for heart attacks and hypertension which are the leading causes of heart failure. One study has found out that eating a bowl of whole grain cereal everyday can lower the risk for heart failure by 29%. Aside from this, there are benefits that can be derived by post-menopausal women. It is said that eating a serving of whole grain oats daily at least six times a week can treat post-menopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease. This can also slow down the progression of atherosclerosis and stenosis or narrowing of the blood vessels. The effect was independent of fiber's effects.
Beta glucan found in oats can also significantly enhance the immune system's response to bacterial infection. It helps neutrophils in their movement towards ithe site of infection. It also enhances the ability of the white blood cells to eliminate bacteria in the body. Aside from these effects, oats can also stabilize blood sugar levels and may prevent diabetes. In type 2 diabetes patients, oats can lower blood sugar levels than white rice or bread. This effect against diabetes are also due to magnesium which is present in oats and whole grains. Magnesium acts as a cofactor in more than 300 enzymes in the body, including the enzymes involved in glucose and insulin secretion.
The fiber in oats can help protect against breast cancer, especially among pre-menopausal women. Thos women who took the most fiber (>30 grams daily) have more than 50% risk reduction for breast cancers. Oats can also benefit children particularly those with asthma. Increased consumption of whole grain oats and fish can reduce asthma risk in children by about 50 percent. Oats also contain more powerful phytonutrients that men have never known due to lack of thorough research.
Oats and Heart Health
Recently, eleven scientists around the world have presented their latest findings on the powerful compounds found in oats in a scientific session titled, Physicochemical Properties and Biological Functionality of Oats, at the 247th Annual Conference of the American Chemical Society in Dallas, TX. These researchers discussed the various health benefits of oats and added that there is growing evidence that the phenolic compound avenanthramide may possess more antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-itch and anti-cancer properties. Oats also contribute to heart health.
To know more on the benefits of oats and other forms of fiber, feel free to read our other articles on this site.