Your arteries are the main transportation system for the blood in your body. When arteries become clogged with plaque, often resulting from cholesterol, heart disease and other health problems can result. The oats found in oatmeal and other products can help reduce your cholesterol levels and prevent plaque from forming on your arteries, thereby keeping them clear and healthy.
Soluble Fiber Reduces Cholesterol
Oatmeal has been shown to help lower harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol because of its soluble fiber content, according to the Mayo Clinic. As soluble fiber breaks down, it traps other substances, such as LDL cholesterol. Your body absorbs less of these substances while they are trapped and traveling through the digestive system, according to the Quaker Oats Web site. The soluble fiber in oatmeal has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol without negatively affecting beneficial HDL cholesterol in the process, according to the study, “The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later,” published In Jan./Feb. 2008. Oat consumption has also been shown to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and weight gain, according to the study.
Flavanoids Help Arteries
A study by the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging found that in addition to containing soluble fiber, oats also contain flavanoids, which help inhibit cell oxidation. Oxidation is believed to lead to hardening of the arteries. Flavanoids found in oats may also help prevent plaque formation on artery walls, which can lead to heart disease, according to the Quaker Oats website.
Oat Intake Recommendations
According to the Quaker Oats website, 1 serving, or ½ cup, of dry rolled oats contains 2g of soluble fiber. According to Northwestern University’s nutrition website, at least 3g of soluble fiber combined with a total fiber intake of 2g can result in a decline in blood cholesterol levels. A daily intake of 3g of soluble fiber and a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Making Oatmeal More Enjoyable
On its own, oatmeal is less than appetizing for some people. Try mixing some healthy toppings into your oatmeal, such as walnuts, raisins, blueberries or a banana. Adding fruit also increases the amount of fiber found in your bowl of cereal, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you dislike oatmeal even with extra toppings, opt for oat bran or cold cereal that is made with oatmeal. You can also include oats in everyday recipes, such as bread, muffins, meatloaf, breading and granola.