Oats and heart health–
The Oatmeal and oat bran are rich in dietary fiber, i.e both soluble and insoluble. One of the most important components of the soluble fibre abundantly present in oats is beta-glucans. These beta glucans have been studied to aid in lowering blood cholesterol levels. The benefits are attributed to the fact that when soluble fiber passes through the digestive tract, they break down and form a gel like substance. This gel then traps the cholesterol carrying bile acids and in turn reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the blood stream and the adjoining cells. So, the entire process results in entrapping of the bad LDL cholesterol without having any effect on the good HDL cholesterol.
Oats and grains also contain compounds called tocotrienols, which are basically antioxidants which form vitamin E along with tocopherols. These tocotrienols reduce the free radical damage, inhibit cholesterol synthesis and help to lower blood cholesterol levels. A reduced synthesis and absorption of LDL cholesterol help to reduce the risk to coronary heart diseases. However, the point to be noted is that Oats and other whole grains shall be most effective in improving heart health, when consumed as part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet taken together with regular exercise.
It is recommended to have at least ½-1 cup (1½-3 ounces) of oats every day, so as to derive its health benefits. The oats may be prepared into hot cereal or porridges. However, there have been instances where excess consumption of oat bran have led to digestive complaints.
Oats and blood sugar levels-
The beta glucan present in oats helps to slow down the rise in blood glucose levels after a meal and also helps to delay the absorption into the cells. Here’s how it works. We have already seen that the soluble fiber forms a gel like structure while passing through the digestive tract. This gel increases the viscosity of the contents of the stomach and small intestine, which in turn slows down digestion and prolongs the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This means that drastic fluctuations in the blood sugar levels after eating is avoided and a stable glucose level is maintained. This is desirable, especially for weight loss seekers and diabetics. Similar benefits may be derived by intake of other sources of soluble fiber like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Oats and weight control–
The dietary fiber helps to make you feel full faster and longer. This help to reduce cravings and bingeing tendencies and leads to better chances of losing weight effectively. Oats also help to improve the athletic performance by providing calories for meeting the energy demands of a workout. They tend to improve metabolism, when eaten an hour before work outs.
Additionally, oats contain phyto chemicals (plant chemicals which have been associated with protection against chronic disease like cancer) and a good balance of essential fatty acids. Oats are also a storehouse of essential vitamins such as thiamin, folic acid, biotin and minerals such as zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese and magnesium.
The vast array of nutritional benefits pinpoints that yes, oats should essentially be made a part of your daily diet regime.