Whether you prefer to whip up a bowl of hot oatmeal in the morning or whip up oatmeal in the evening before you go to work, one thing is certain: oatmeal is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. can eat for breakfast.
From reducing inflammation and managing blood sugar to promoting gut health and supporting weight management, this fiber- and vitamin-rich superfood offers a plethora of health benefits. And one of its biggest selling points is its ability to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Interestingly enough, due to strong research results, Quaker Oats made history in 1997, with oats being the first food to carry the FDA Heart Healthy Award on its label.
Here’s how oatmeal can improve your heart health, and for more healthy eating info, check out the 9 Best Oatmeal Recipes for Longer Life.
How Oatmeal Affects Your Heart Health
It’s no secret that high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. This is where oatmeal works its magic.
Oats contain a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to lower total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. Indeed, according to a study published in Nutrientsparticipants who consumed three grams of beta-glucan daily for eight weeks reduced their LDL cholesterol by 15% and their total cholesterol by almost 9%.
While soluble fiber reduces cholesterol absorption by binding to LDL cholesterol and eliminate it from your body, oats can also prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. This process occurs when LDL cholesterol interacts with free radicals, which can cause inflammation of the arteries, tissue damage, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Plus, oats are packed with heart-healthy vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, copper, magnesium, and potassium. As a bonus, they’re also the only food source that contains avenanthramides, a group of antioxidants that may protect against heart disease.
How to get the most out of your rolled oats
Oats are a nutrient-rich blank canvas, so your supplements make all the difference in the quality of your breakfast bowl. Rolled oats prepackaged with artificial flavors and sweeteners have low nutritional value. And piling on sugary toppings like brown sugar, chocolate chips, and dried fruit doesn’t do your health any favors either. These can increase inflammation, raise blood sugar, and lead to weight gain.
However, eating plain oatmeal won’t do much good either. Since oatmeal is low in calories and fat, eating it without any toppings will likely leave you unsatisfied.
To step up your oatmeal game, consider adding fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, nut butter, spices, or even an egg. This will not only improve the flavor of the oats, but also give you a nutrition boost. For more inspiration on how to make a heart-healthy bowl of oatmeal, check out the 5 Best Oatmeal Habits for Your Heart, Dietitians Say.
Brianna is the editorial assistant for Eat This, Not That! She attended Ithaca College, where she earned a degree in journalism and a minor in communications. Read more