Health In Focus
  • Oats contain beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that reduces the cholesterol levels.
  • A diet rich in oat beta-glucan can reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, and apolipoprotein B.
  • Daily intake of about 3.5 grams of beta-glucan fiber from oats can improve cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Oats (Avena sativa) are one of the best foods that offer a range of health benefits. For more than five decades, studies have shown that regular consumption of oats can lower cholesterol levels and reduce a person's risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Since then most of the studies have focused on the impact of oats on the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which is also known as bad cholesterol that causes blockages or blood clots.
Oats Consumption can Lower Cholesterol Levels

LDL cholesterol is an important marker for the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Non-HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB), are the other two markers that provide an accurate assessment of cardiovascular risk.

Impact of Oat fiber on Cholesterol Levels

Oats contain a viscous soluble fiber called beta-glucan that lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials were conducted to see the effect of oat fiber on all the three markers. The study was carried out by Dr Vladimir Vuksan, a research scientist and associate director of the Risk Factor Modification Centre of St. Michael's Hospital.

The research team reviewed 58 clinical trials that involved nearly 4,000 people. The studies assessed the effect of oats enriched diets compared with controlled diets on LDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol, and apoB. The results showed that diets enriched with about 3.5 grams a day of beta-glucan fiber from oats, improved the levels of LDL cholesterol, non-HDL and apoB compared to control diets. The levels of LDL cholesterol reduced by 4.2 percent, non-HDL cholesterol by 4.8 percent and apoB by 2.3 percent.

Oatmeal alone does not provide the recommended amount of oat fiber for a day. To increase the daily intake of oat fiber, Dr Vuksan has recommended people to increase their consumption of oat bran. One cup of cooked oat bran, which provides 88 calories, contains the same quantity of beta-glucan as double the amount of cooked oatmeal, which provides 166 calories.

The study is published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Studies on Cholesterol-Lowering Effects of Oat Beta-Glucan

In 1997, The United States of Food and Drug Administration approved that beta-glucan from oats can reduce plasma cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease.

A study published in the Nutrition Reviews (2011), found that regular intake of at least 3 grams of beta-glucan may reduce plasma total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by 5-10% in people with hypercholesterolemia (high levels of cholesterol in the blood).

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2015), found that diets containing oatmeal were more beneficial in lowering total cholesterol levels compared to a whole grain diet without oats.

A bowl of cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start the day. Eating one and a half cups of oats a day can lower cholesterol levels by 5 to 8 percent. Topping a bowl of oats with fruits and nuts can increase the nutrient intake.

Other Benefits of Oats
  • Improve satiety and prevent overeating
  • Act as a laxative
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Help control blood sugar levels
  • Control blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of asthma in children
  • Improve nutrients intake for people on gluten-free diet
  • Increase the levels of peptide Y-Y, a hormone that controls appetite
  • Beta-glucan in oats helps improve immunity
Ways to Include Oats in the Daily Diet
  • Oats porridge with fruits
  • Choose an oat-based cereal
  • Add oats to homemade cookies and cakes
  • Choose bread containing oats
  • Swap bread crumbs with oats
  • Thicken smoothies with a tablespoon of oats
References :
  1. Health Benefits of Oats - (
  2. Cholesterol-lowering Effects of Oat β-glucan - (
  3. Whole Grain Oats - Best Bet for Lowering Cholesterol - (
Source: Medindia

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