In this series of blogs we will be researching which foods are best suited for people who have concerns about their cardio-vascular health. Today we are looking at oatmeal, a traditional stalwart of breakfasts around the world and a very healthy one too. The FDA allows manufacturers who use oats to make health claims about the grain on their products, to let consumers know that a diet high in oats can reduce the risk of heart disease. So what makes oatmeal so good for your heart?
Firstly, oatmeal contains a specific type of dietary fiber known as beta-glucan. This helps reduce cholesterol by binding bile acids and removing them from the body. One bowl of oatmeal a day typically reduces cholesterol intake by between 8 and 23 percent, a significant amount. Lowering high cholesterol levels can radically reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes. High cholesterol is one of the most common conditions that lead to heart disease, simply having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast each day is a great way to prevent this.
Oatmeal also contains unique antioxidant compounds known as avenanthramides. These compounds help prevent free radicals from damaging the good low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in your body. According to studies, this can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Also, because oatmeal is so rich in fiber, eating it in the morning will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day and prevent mid-morning energy crashes meaning you won't be wanting for snacks. These crashes are typically associated with eating refined sugars and carbs.
If you want to include oats in your diet, try starting your day with a bowl of healthy oatmeal. Alternatively, you can add oats whenever you're baking. Substitute up to one-third of the flour with oats in pancakes, muffins, quick breads, cookies, and coffee cakes for an added dose of healthy fiber.
Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at other foods that can help reduce your risk of heart disease so watch this space!