Health Benefits of Oats
Oats can add extra nutrition to a variety of healthy dishes. Oats (Avena sativa) are a cereal commonly eaten in the form of oatmeal or rolled oats.
They are mainly eaten as porridge, as an ingredient in breakfast cereals and in baked goods (oatcakes, oat cookies and oat bread). Over the past few decades oats have become a very popular "health food".
Oats are loaded in dietary fiber (containing more than any other grain) and have a range of healthy cholesterol-lowering properties and can lower your risk for several diseases, including high blood pressure and type 2 Diabetes. Oatmeal also contains lignans, a plant chemical that has been found to prevent heart disease.
Nutritional breakdown of oats
Dietary fiber - oats are rich in a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan. This particular type of fiber is known to help lower levels of bad cholesterol. One cup of oats contains 16.5 grams of fiber, which is roughly half of a person's recommended daily intake of fiber.
Minerals - oats contain manganese, selenium, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium, and zinc. Oats are also rich in carotenoids, tocols (Vitamin E), flavonoids and avenanthramides - a class of polyphenols.
Calories - one cup of oats contains approximately 607 calories.
Health BenefitsLower Cholesterol
Eating oatmeal can lower your cholesterol, especially your LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. If you've been diagnosed with high cholesterol, consider adding oatmeal to your daily menu.
Oatmeal and oat bran are significant sources of dietary fiber. This fiber contains a mixture of about half soluble and half insoluble fibers. One component of the soluble fibre found in oats is beta-glucans, a soluble fiber which has proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol. Here's how it works. Soluble fiber breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract, forming a gel that traps some substances related to cholesterol, such as cholesterol-rich bile acids. This entrapment reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. The bad cholesterol, LDL, is trapped without lowering good cholesterol (HDL). Oats and grains are also one of the best sources of compounds called tocotrienols. These are antioxidants which together with tocopherols form vitamin E. The tocotrienols inhibit cholesterol synthesis and have been found to lower blood cholesterol. The accumulation of cholesterol is implicated in many types of cardiovascular disease. Oats, like all cholesterol-lowering agents, are most effective when consumed as part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet taken together with plenty of exercise. The beneficial health effects of oats are best if ½-1 cup (1½-3 ounces) of oats are eaten every day.
Unique Oat Antioxidants Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Oats, via their high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.
Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Our advice: Cut an orange (which is rich in vitamin C) in quarters or pour yourself a glass of orange juice to enjoy along with your oatmeal. If you prefer some other grain for your breakfast cereal, top it with a heaping spoonful of oat bran.
Helps in Reducing Weight
As the soluble fiber of oats is digested, it forms a gel, which causes the viscosity of the contents of the stomach and small intestine to be increased. The gel delays stomach emptying making you feel full longer which helps with weight loss. That means when you eat oats for breakfast, you're going to feel full for a long time. Breakfast foods high in sugar and fat can make you feel full for a brief period, but then you're hungry again. A breakfast smoothie, consisting of blended oats, fruit and ice, can satisfy your hunger easily until lunch.
Our advice: If you've tried oatmeal before and didn't like it, reconsider. Combining fruit or nuts with your oats while they're cooking adds more nutrients. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg give great flavor to your oats. Limit any sugars and let the natural flavor of the fruits and spices take over. Blend your oats with different fruits into a healthy oatmeal smoothie. Because oatmeal is such a beneficial food, try to find a different way to eat it every day.
A daily serving of whole oats rich in soluble fibre can reduce hypertension, or high blood pressure, and so reduce the need for anti-hypertensive medication.
Stabilizes Blood Sugar and Reduces Risk of Diabetes (type 2)
The high fiber and complex carbohydrates slow down the conversion of this whole food to simple sugars. The high levels of magnesium nourish the body’s proper use of glucose and insulin secretion.
Oats, like other grains and vegetables, contain hundreds of phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Many phytochemicals are thought to reduce a person's risk of getting cancer. Phytoestrogen compounds, called lignans, in oats have been linked to decreased risk of hormone-related diseases such as breast cancer. Most of the research has been focused on breast cancer, but similar effects are expected on other hormone-related cancers such as prostate, endometrium and ovarian cancer. Oatmeal, like many whole grains, contains plant lignans, which are converted by intestinal flora into mammalian lignans. One lignan, called enterolactone, is thought to protect against breast and other hormone-dependent cancers as well as heart disease.
Helps in Efficient Bowel Function
Oats have a high fiber content. Fiber is necessary in keeping bowel movements regular. Oats are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water. It is spongy and absorbs many times its own weight of liquid. It makes stools heavier and speeds their passage through the gut, relieving constipation.
Significant Cardiovascular Benefits for Postmenopausal Women
Eating a serving of whole grains, such as oats, at least 6 times each week is an especially good idea for postmenopausal women with high cholesterol, high blood pressure or other signs of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
General Health and Longevity
Oats have a higher concentration of well-balanced protein than other cereals. Oats contain phytochemicals (plant chemicals) which have been associated with protection from chronic disease such as cancer. They contain a good balance of essential fatty acids, which have been linked with longevity and general good health, and also have one of the best amino acid profiles of any grain. Amino acids are essential proteins that help facilitate optimum functioning of the body. Oats are a good source of essential vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid and vitamin E. They also contain zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium. Oat beta glucan also appears to help speed up response to infection, which may result in faster healing. According to a new study, it was discovered that beta glucan can enhance the ability of certain human immune cells to navigate to the site of a bacterial infection, resulting in faster healing. So don't delay and start eating more oats today!
Caution: Oat bran is LIKELY SAFE for most people, including pregnant and breast-feeding women. It can cause intestinal gas and bloating. To minimize side effects, start with a low dose and increase slowly to the desired amount. Your body will get used to oat bran and the side effects will likely go away.
Disorders of the digestive tract including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines: Avoid eating oat products. Digestive problems that could extend the length of time it takes for your food to be digested could allow oats to block your intestine.
Recipes with Oats
Video Recipes with Oats