Oats are classified as whole grain and are particularly high in dietary fiber, healthy fats, protein, and an array of important micronutrients. Clinical research indicates that consumption of at least 3 servings (16 g/serving) of whole grains per day may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases, notably cardiovascular disease and secondaraly type-2 diabetes. Keep in mind whole grain refers to the natural form (e.g. whole grain bread and rice) and not refined forms (e.g. white bread and rice). Individuals who consume oats have shown an even higher reduced risk of cardiovascular disease as compared to individuals who consume other whole grains such as rice and wheat. They also have a lower incidence of developing colorectal cancer. This is most likely due to their high dietary fiber content but may also be partially due to the presence of other healthy fats and a special group of antioxidants known as avenanthramides, found in oats. Oat consumption has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease by reducing total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol), while increasing good cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol). Aside from preventing the onset of cardiovascular disease, incorporating oats into the diet helps improve satiety (i.e. that hunger feeling) and helps promote GI regularity. Improvements in satiety often lead to weight loss and resultant better health outcomes.
It’s important to include a variety of whole grains into your daily diet. Next time you’re meandering the aisles of the grocery store, consider adding a bowl of oatmeal or oat bran with fresh fruit to your breakfast each morning!