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Does Eating Oatmeal Help Lower Your Cholesterol?

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Updated December 20, 2012

Does Eating Oatmeal Help Lower Your Cholesterol?
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Oatmeal is made of ground oats that can be made into a variety of foods, including porridges, cookies, and snacks. It is also used in some cosmetics and creams. Recent studies also have shown that oatmeal has some heart healthy benefits. This is mainly due to the rich source of water-soluble dietary fibers, particularly beta glucan, that are found in oatmeal.

Over the years, there have been many research studies that have proven the benefits of oatmeal in lowering cholesterol levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is convinced, too: Oatmeal was one of the first foods to carry the heart healthy distinction on its label because of promising research findings.

How Does Oatmeal Help Lower Cholesterol?

It is thought that the oat fibers in oatmeal mix with cholesterol in the small intestine, then bind to the cholesterol molecules and carry it out of the body -- instead of it being absorbed into the blood.

Oatmeal seems to be most effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels. According to the studies in adults, LDL cholesterol may be lowered by 10 percent in some cases. In these studies, anywhere between 40 and 60 grams -- or roughly one bowl -- of oatmeal was consumed by each subject per day. The cholesterol lowering benefits of oatmeal is also dose-dependent. That is, the more oatmeal you eat, the lower your cholesterol will go.

Although oatmeal is helpful in lowering cholesterol, some of the ingredients placed in oatmeal may not be. This would include butter, chocolate, whole milk, and cheeses. Be sure to check the ingredients of instant oatmeal and the fat content of added ingredients if you want to achieve the full, cholesterol-lowering effect of oatmeal.

Sources:

Czerwinski J et al. Oat (Avena sativa L.) and amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) meals positively affect plasma lipid profile in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets. J Nutr Biochem (10):622-9.

Davidson MH et al. The hypocholesterolemic effects of beta-glucan in oatmeal and oat bran. A dose-controlled study. JAMA 266(8): 1833-1839.

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