Oatmeal is one of the best foods for lowering cholesterol. It’s a whole grain, which means it has all three parts of the grain: the bran (the outer coating), the germ (the embryo in the center), and the endosperm (the starchy part). The bran and germ contain fiber, B vitamins, iron, and other nutrients that are good for your heart.
How Can Oatmeal Help Lower Cholesterol?
The soluble fiber found in oats can help lower cholesterol by binding bile acids in the intestine and preventing them from being reabsorbed into your body.
This lowers total blood cholesterol levels. In addition to soluble fiber, whole-grain oats are rich in other nutrients that may also help lower your cholesterol, including vitamin E and magnesium.
The benefits of oatmeal for lowering cholesterol
Oatmeal is a great way to start the day. It is high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. This can help you avoid overeating throughout the day and also lowers cholesterol.
The soluble fiber in oatmeal binds to cholesterol and bile acids in your intestines and then slowly passes out of the body through bowel movements. This process helps lower blood levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
There is also evidence that eating oats regularly may help reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol levels, improving insulin sensitivity (which often leads to diabetes), and reducing inflammation in the arteries (which increases the risk of heart disease).
In addition to lowering cholesterol, oatmeal has many other health benefits. It’s rich in antioxidants called avenanthramides that are believed to protect against cancer, particularly colon cancer. Oats also contain phytosterols that may protect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer. Furthermore, oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which appears to reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as bloating and constipation.
The different types of oatmeal available
There are many different types of oatmeal available. Some are flavored with sugar; some are not. Some are cooked in water, and others are cooked in milk or cream. The main types of oatmeal include:
Instant oatmeal: Instant oatmeal is made from rolled oats that have been steamed and pressed into thin flakes. It’s then dehydrated until it’s crunchy and ready to eat. Instant oatmeal is quick and easy to prepare — just add hot water or milk.
Old-fashioned rolled oats: Old-fashioned rolled oats, also called “old-fashioned” or “regular,” are whole grain kernels that have been steamed, flattened, and dried. They’re often used in baking because they don’t get soggy like instant varieties do (see below).
Steel-cut oats: Steel-cut oats (also called Irish or Scotch oats) aren’t as widely available as rolled oats but are becoming more popular due to their nutty taste and chewy texture. They’re made from whole grains that have been cut into pieces with steel blades before being dried.
Quick cooking oats: Quick cooking oats, also known as “instant” or “minute” oats, are pre-cooked for a short period of time and then dried.
How to cook oatmeal for optimum health benefits
Here are some tips on how to cook oats for optimum health benefits:
The longer you cook oatmeal, the more healthy fiber it will lose. So if you like your oatmeal soft and creamy, start with less water and cook it only until it gets thick, not mushy. If you prefer a firmer texture, use more water and cook longer until all the water is absorbed.
To reduce cholesterol, soak oats overnight before cooking them in the morning. This activates the phytase enzyme that breaks down phytate into phytase acid, lowering cholesterol levels in humans and animals. The next day just add some fresh fruit or nuts for flavor and nutrition!
How to incorporate oatmeal into your diet
Here are some tips for incorporating oatmeal into your diet:
Add oatmeal to your morning coffee or smoothie. Oatmeal is high in soluble fiber, which helps control blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
Make oatmeal cookies from scratch. Oatmeal cookies are a great way to get kids to eat their daily serving of whole grains and fiber.
Mix it up with granola bars and trail mix by adding oats. Oatmeal adds crunch, texture, and flavor to these snacks that kids love!
Use oats as a topping on yogurt or ice cream instead of crumbled cookies or chocolate chips for a healthier option that satisfies that sweet tooth craving!