A diet for high cholesterol should include oat bran. If you have high cholesterol try changing your diet.

When doctors talk about high cholesterol, they don’t mean the amount of cholesterol a person gets from food, but rather how much of the substance is circulating in the blood. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., MD, a professor of medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and an expert on cholesterol and atherosclerosis, explains that with atherosclerosis, the specific culprit is elevated LDL cholesterol, the “bad” kind associated with “increased risk of heart attacks and dying of heart disease.”

Diets to combat high cholesterol matter, according to Dr. Gotto. Atherosclerosis is a gradual process, that can start early in life. Fatty streaks can show up in adolescent arteries, and autopsies on men in their 20s have revealed “significant plaque in coronary arteries,” he adds. “It doesn’t just occur overnight.” Over time, this plaque buildup can turn into a serious health threat, boosting risk of heart attack and stroke. Coronary disease shows a sharp increase during the 50s in men, and the late 50s and 60s in women.

A Diet for High Cholesterol Needs Some Oat Bran

You’re probably tired of oatmeal for breakfast. Try oat bran as a healthy addition to your diet for high cholesterol.   

Oatmeal and oat bran are both derived from oat groats. Oatmeal is the whole grain, made by flattening or rolling the groats and discarding the outer bran and inner germ. Oat bran consists of those jettisoned parts. Both are good sources of fiber, protein, iron and other nutrients, but oat bran holds the edge as a disease preventative.

Oat Bran is Nutritionally Superior to Oatmeal

A review in the European Journal of Nutrition designated oats as unique among cereals, due to its “multifunctional characteristics and nutritional profile.” Both oat bran and oatmeal help reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, and thus the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer. But oat bran contains more B vitamins, potassium, and iron than rolled oats. The bran also earns bragging rights in protein and fiber content. A one cup serving of either grain is about 150 calories, but the bran supplies 7 g of protein and 6 g of fiber, satisfying about 25% of your daily needs. By comparison, oatmeal has only 5 g of protein and 4 g of fiber.

Another key nutritional difference between the two is that oat bran has 33% more soluble fiber than oatmeal. This type of fiber absorbs water, keeping you feeling full, stabilizing your blood sugar, and keeping your digestive system lubricated. Soluble fiber has another important function. It attaches itself to LDL, the “bad” cholesterol, and escorts it out of the body.

Health Benefits of Oat Bran

  1. Oat Bran Contains Beta-Glucan

The cell walls of the bran contain a particular type of sugar known as beta-glucan, which has been shown to decrease cholesterol absorption in the intestinal tract and promote heart health.  Due to these health benefits, oat beta-glucan is sold in supplement form and added to nutrition bars and cereals. It is particularly helpful when added to yogurt, as studies show that the addition of beta-glucan helps preserve its fragile probiotic bacteria.

  • Oat Bran Lowers Cholesterol

Current recommendations advise that Americans double their intake of dietary fiber.

A double-blind study of adults who alternated between a low-fiber and oat bran diet for  two weeks each found that the oat bran diet decreased total cholesterol by 14%, and non-HDL (i.e., the bad type) cholesterol by 16%. The low-fat diet only decreased total cholesterol by 4% and HDL cholesterol by 3%. Another study, which compared the effects of eating either corn flakes or oat bran cereal, concluded that oat bran had superior cholesterol lowering properties in both healthy adults and those with high cholesterol.

  • Oat Bran Reduces the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

A large population-based study in the San Francisco Bay Area conducted from 1995 through 1999 evaluated the effect of eating whole-grain, high-fiber foods, including oat bran cereal, on pancreatic cancer rates. The data demonstrated that increasing consumption of high dietary fiber foods may reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.

  • Oat Bran’s Prebiotics Enhances the Immune System and Reduce Infection Rates

Prebiotics and probiotics have beneficial immune system effects and help prevent serious, life-threating infections, including sepsis. A 2006 study compared immune system responses of critically ill ICU patients who were administered a prebiotic and probiotic formula which included oat bran to those receiving a placebo, and concluded that the patients who received the formula “exhibited a significantly reduced rate” of infection and mortality. 

  • Oat Bran’s High Fiber Content Lowers Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Middle-aged healthy individuals who participated in a controlled dietary trial were randomly assigned to eat a refined diet, or one high in whole grains, including oats. Daily consumption of 3 portions of whole grains decreased the risk of coronary artery disease by 15% and stroke risk by 25%.

How to Enjoy Oat Bran

Oat bran can be added to a wide variety of baked goods, including breads, cookies and pancakes. This recipe from Ambitious Kitchen makes 95 calorie oat bran muffins that contain no flour or added sugars and are made healthier with the addition of applesauce, Greek yogurt, egg whites and bananas.

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