Are Oats Good for You?

| 4/15/2015 12:14:00 PM

Tags: Chelsea Clark, Washington, Oats,

Are Oats Good for You

I have fond memories of sitting down to the kitchen table with my mom to eat oatmeal when I was little. I was the youngest of three kids, and these morning bowls of oatmeal were something that we shared, just the two of us, after my older brothers had left for school. It wasn’t something we did every day, but I remember it vividly because I liked getting to pour my own milk to make it creamy and I loved mixing in (probably a few too many) spoonfuls of brown sugar to make it taste just right.

Years later, I still enjoy oatmeal as a hearty, filling breakfast from time to time. I now replace the brown sugar with alternative sweeteners (or I skip it all together), and I like to add healthy nuts, berries, or other additions like flax seed to my oatmeal to make my meal more wholesome. But why are oats good for you in the first place?

Why Are Oats Good for You?

Oats are rich in protein, vitamins (like vitamin E), antioxidants, and fiber, making them a good food to start your day off with.[1,2] One of the reasons oats are believed to be so healthy is that they contain an especially important form of fiber, called β-glucan, which has a wide range of health benefits. This kind of fiber is thought to help contribute to lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, and many other positive effects in the body.[3] Oats also have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities, which helps to keep the body healthy and fight disease.[1]

Health Benefits of Eating More Oats

Whole grains, in general, and oats in particular have been linked to lower rates of disease, such as certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.[2,4,5] Some of the specific health benefits of oats include:

1. Lowering cholesterol. There are numerous studies showing that oats have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels.[1,3,6-8] In one review of various studies, oats reduced cholesterol levels by and average 3 percent to 6 percent, correlating to a 6 percent to 18 percent decreased risk for heart disease. The beneficial effect on cholesterol levels seems to be particularly important for people with elevated cholesterol to begin with.[6] β-glucan fiber plays a large role in the cholesterol-lowering effects of oats, and their antioxidant capacity also helps by preventing the oxidation of lipids.[1]

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