Oats: Choice of Carbohydrate Source to Reduce Heart, Cholesterol; FDA, USDA Recommended

Oats: Choice of Carbohydrate Source to Reduce Heart, Cholesterol; FDA, USDA Reco

The benefits of oats to its soluble fiber - the type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water. There are several reasons why foods such as oats that contain soluble fiber, or soluble fiber itself, could have beneficial effects on blood pressure or cholesterol. The presence of soluble fiber in foods slows the rate of digestion and absorption.


The glycemic index, aims to classify carbohydrates based on how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar compared to pure glucose. Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar.

The slower digestion causes a more gradual rise in insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, but it may raise blood pressure in some individuals. There may be other as yet unidentified factors in oats that affect the way the blood vessels react.

Oats have a high concentration of calcium, protein, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, thiamin and vitamin E compared with other whole grain foods such as wheat and rye. Like fruits and vegetable, oats contain phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring chemicals in plants that help fight disease. Oats, in particular, have lots of flavonoids. These are powerful antioxidants that help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Moreover certain foods last a lot longer than you think -- years longer. Food scientist at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah found that taste-tested rolled oats that had been stored in sealed containers for 28 years. Three-fourths of tasters considered the oats acceptable to eat in an emergency.

L-arginine was found to be required for the generation of urea, which is necessary for the removal of toxic ammonia from the body. It was also shown to be required for the synthesis of creatine. Creatine degrades to creatinine at a constant rate, and is cleared from the body by the kidney. Walnuts, filberts, pecans, Brazil nuts, oats, peanuts are good dietary sources of arginine.

Oats provide soluble fiber called beta-glucans. Foods containing whole-oat sources of soluble fiber (oats, oat bran, and oat flour) could reduce the risk of coronary heart disease; according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A short-term study at University of Teesside, Middlesbrough indicated that wholegrain cereals (such as oats) may reduce the risk of Coronary heart disease (CHD), possibly by reducing cholesterol levels.

In a study comparison between oats and wheat; funded by Quaker Oats at Tufts University in Boston found that the oat group's LDL was 23 mg/dL lower and the wheat group's LDL was 8 mg/dL lower. Also, the people in the oat group reduced their systolic (top number) blood pressure by 7 millimeters of mercury (mm/Hg) at the end of the six-week study compared to 2 mm/Hg for the wheat group.

According to New Scientist magazine, E. Lund and his colleagues at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, England, fed male rats a diet rich in oat gum or finely ground rolled oats--real oatmeal. In oat-fed rats, they found that the small intestine contents were wetter and more viscous than in rats fed normal fare. The oat-fed rats also had a kind of boundary layer at the mucosal surface of their small intestines.

The research team determined that the source of these effects was glucan, a substance concentrated in the oat bran. Somehow, the glucan-produced intestinal reactions blocked the absorption of dietary cholesterol. The higher the proportion of oats in its diet, the less cholesterol in a rat's bloodstream.

Researchers from the Spanish universities of Seville found that the consumption of melatonin a natural substance produced in small amounts by human beings and present in many types of food delays the oxidative damage and inflammatory processes typical of the old age. Melatonin can be found in small amounts in some fruits and vegetables, like onions, cherries and bananas, and in cereals like corn, oats and rice, as well as in some aromatic plants, such as mint, lemon verbena, sage or thyme, and in red wine.

A new (Jan., 2008) scientific review of the most current research by clinical nutrition at the University Of Kentucky College Of Medicine shows the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction to be stronger than when the FDA initially approved the health claim's appearance on food labels in 1997.

Recent studies suggest eating oatmeal may:

Quick-cooking oats are cut into thinner pieces, thus cook faster. Women might also consider adding a daily does of enriched oats to their diets to reduce heart-disease risk with the added benefit of providing needed folic acid.

Eating 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 4.5 grams of fiber — enough to lower your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the "bad" cholesterol. To mix it up a little, try oat bran or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran. Soluble fiber -- from beans, some fruits and even coffee -- may help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol and blood sugar and may help protect against heart attack and stroke; according to Mayo Clinic. They proposed that Oats, whether as one-half cup of oatmeal or oat bran or as an ounce of granola, are good for about 1 gram of soluble fiber.

For people with high blood cholesterol, nutrition experts recommend 1 1/2 cups of oatmeal (1/2 cup uncooked) daily to help reduce blood cholesterol. Gradually increase your fiber intake and drink plenty of water to prevent upsetting your digestive system.

Health Canada recently also suggested that the majority of people with celiac disease can tolerate limited amounts of pure oats. These studies have increased interest in the possibility of adding oats to a gluten-free diet, as this would permit a wider choice of foods for individuals with celiac disease and provide an important source of proteins, carbohydrates and fiber.

"Whole-grain products like oatmeal are among some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels, in addition to other lifestyle choices," they suggested. USDA also recommended choosing foods that name “whole oats” as whole-grain ingredients first on the label’s ingredient.

Now that the oats have settled, what do we know about the bold claim? In a recent review published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, the authors verify that the fiber in oats has a beneficial impact on lowering total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol or the "bad "type of cholesterol.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of two important events in the food and nutrition world: the fortification of grains with folic acid and FDA approval of the first food specific health claim — that fiber in oats can reduce heart disease risk; published Published on 01/31/08 at www.ajc.com.

Oats are a good carbohydrate. They help keep moods and appetites steady because they take longer for the body to digest than white flour. And because oats are an unrefined, fiber-rich whole grain, they are absorbed by the body more slowly. That means an oat-filled cookie will keep a tummy satisfied, and spirits up longer than a plain white flour cookie because it creates a steadier release of serotonin, the “feel good” chemical in the brain.

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