Oats have surprising health benefits

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(NaturalHealth365) Oats have a very humble origin and may not be getting the acclaim they deserve. They were the last of the major cereal grains to be domesticated and originated as weeds – which grew within cultivated fields of other crops. Oats were a “lowly” horse food and even today less than 5% of the oats grown are for human consumption.

As of today, oats are mainly used as horse feed despite the fact that studies have linked oat bran (the outer hard layer of the oat kernel) to lower cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease.

Heart healthy scientific news

In the late 1990’s, the FDA approved the first heart-healthy claim for all products made from whole oats, by stating that soluble fiber from whole oats as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. In fact, oats contain more soluble fiber than any other grain.

Oats, oat bran and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since the early 1960’s, studies have proven the beneficial effects of this fiber on cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that in individuals with high cholesterol levels, consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day – typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%. Imagine what one bowl of oatmeal per day could do for you.

Reduce oxidative stress (naturally) with a healthy diet

A study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition is another example of how natural foods prevent disease. Did you know that the antioxidant compounds unique to oats called avenanthramides can prevent free radicals from ruining your health? The less free radical damage within your body – the better!

In another study conducted at Tufts and published in Atherosclerosis, researchers exposed human arterial wall cells to purified avenanthramides from oats for 24 hours and found that these phenols suppressed the production of molecules involved with certain immune cells called monocytes – the first step toward developing atherosclerosis.

A healthy diet is found to boost immunity

It has been found that a bowl of oatmeal boosts immune response and morning energy levels. In laboratory studies reported in Surgery, beta-glucan significantly enhances the human immune system response to bacterial infection.

Other studies have shown that beta-glucan has beneficial effects on diabetes. Oats contain insoluble and soluble fiber, which helps make you feel satisfied longer. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose, which keeps sugar spikes and dips at bay.

Variety is the key to a healthy diet

To get the full spectrum of benefits from eating oats it helps to mix and match the different types of oats. Oat grains have an outer covering of bran that is located at the bottom of the grain. The bran is the source of fiber and the vitamins (B and E) and protein, the starchy inner part is the source of the energy.

The whole grain oats are known as groats. Steel-oats, called Irish or Scottish oats, are natural, unrefined oat groats – which have been sliced into smaller pieces. Since very little heat is used in this process, they retain more of the cholesterol lowering bran.

The best way to use oats is to incorporate all the varieties into your diet – this includes: oat groats, oat brain, steel-cut oats, rolled oats, quick oats and oat flour. Each of these offer some of the goodness of the whole oats, as you progress down the list the oats become more processed and take less time to cook. To ensure that you are the recipient of all the grains heart healthy properties, it pays to mix it up a little.

From a bowl of McCann’s Quick Cooking Irish Oatmeal, to Bob’s Red Mill “Scottish” oatmeal for breakfast to adding oats and oat flour to baked goods – there are so many ways to discover the wonderful nutty flavor of oats. And remember, always choose organic whenever possible. Do you have a favorite way of enjoying oats? Post your comments below.

About the author: Blanche Levine has been a student of natural healing modalities for the last 25 years. She had the privilege of working with some of the greatest minds in Natural Healing including Naturopaths, Scientist, and Energy Healers. Having seen people miraculously heal from all kinds of dis-ease through non-invasive methods, her passion now is to help people become aware of what it takes to be healthy.





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  • Patricia

    Yum, hot oatmeal with maple syrup or brown sugar and butter. I’m 64 and still love it.

  • Sandy

    My only question is, are oats all GMO now, like all the other crops grown here?

  • Angie Church

    In my morning oatmeal, I always put a tablespoon of chia seeds per serving when adding the oats with cold water. You will need to add a little more water whe adding chia seed because it absorbs a lot. After I remove the cooked cereal from the heat, I add a little vanilla extract. The vanilla makes all the difference in the taste. I add a small pat of real butter or a spoonful of coconut oil and a drizzle of honey. Sometimes I will make enough to chill leftovers and make a breakfast smoothie the next day by adding some yogurt, milk, frozen fruit, honey and a tablespoon of coconut oil.

  • mary

    If the oats are baked, as in preparing granola, does this diminish all the good nutrients and healing power of oats? mm

  • Bonnie Barta

    Just remember that before 1970, the package of oatmeal ALWAYS said to soak overnite(to remove the natural “pesticide” most grains and beans naturally have)and discard the water in the morning. I like to soak mine and in a separate bowl soak a couple of turkish figs(my only sweetner), then in the AM I put both in the blender with a little salt and eat raw. YUMmmmm-delish! (Sometimes I’ll add a little cinnamon too)

  • valerie womack

    I like to add grated ginger root, cinnamon, grated nutmeg, a spoonful of coconut oil and a date for sweetness, or a spoonful of organic maple syrup. Yum, yum!!! The ginger root gives an extra kick to the oatmeal. I use organic regular oats or organic steel cut.

  • Angela Rosa

    I have soaked whole oat groats overnight too,
    strained and eaten with a small amount of dried
    fruits like Goji berries, figs or others also soaked,
    a tablespoon or less of soaked chia, sesame
    and/ or sunflower seeds, dash of sea salt and
    a little spice of your liking, such as ginger, cinnamon
    or cardamon, a scant teaspoon of coconut oil and
    you have a very hearty RAW breakfast. Needs to be
    chewed thoroughly.

  • indigo

    Love oatmeal however it is high in phytic acid,bad for teeth and bones,leaches minerals.Used to eat it twice a day and last visit to dentist showed most teeth had deteriorated badly.
    Check out Cure Tooth Decay.

  • gena

    Do Cheerios have any real healthy qualities to them? I cannot force myself to eat gooey hot cereal. I really like both the Banana Nut Cheerios and the Yogurt Cheerios, if I eat cereal at all. Am I deluding myself thinking I’m eating healthy at all?

  • Davy Bayuk

    Oats are not genetically modified at this time! Hooray!
    Soaking them overnight is imperative but don’t just use water. You must put some vinegar in with the water to remove the phytic acid or you cannot digest the oats properly. I use organic apple cider vinegar and drain it off just before preparing and eating.
    Oats is one of the best foods we still have available that is not a disastrous grain to our health when it is soaked properly overnight.

  • bill

    this is a health information article. why then do you constantly harp on the allopathic non-science nonsense about any relationship between cholesterol and heart disease? stop reinforcing the mistaken non-correlation foisted on us for so long about cholesterol being bad for us. unless something is very, very, wrong with you, the only problem with cholesterol is if it is too low.

    i am very disappointed.

  • juswonderin

    I love oatmeal, but by the time I get it sweetened enough so I can eat it; it’s probably not a good thing for me. I also already have bad teeth & no money for dental work! So the phytic acid would really destroy my teeth altogether! I’ve tried the Splenda & all the other sweeteners, but they leave a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve never liked figs, dates or raisins. I’m usually not real picky with my food, but once it tastes bad to my palate, I can’t eat it again. Any suggestions? I’m 68 yrs old, & I was raised with oatmeal, but with milk, butter & sugar or the instant flavored oatmeal.

  • Blanche

    Bill, you are right cholesterol isn’t the cause of heart disease. The problem is from all the omega 6 in our diets our arteries become inflamed and can develop small cracks, the cholesterol goes to the injured artery to patch things up.

    The artery can get blocked by this process, many Americans get their fats from cakes, cookies, and processed food and this is the real problem.