January 26, 2006
Eat your oatmeal, it's good for you
Some folks eat it because they like it. Others eat it because they know it's a healthy choice. No matter the reason, do as the TV commercial says: "Just eat the oatmeal."
Oats contain several nutrients that provide health benefits: fiber (soluble and insoluble), good carbohydrates, plant protein, healthy fat, vitamins, minerals and natural antioxidants. Oatmeal is the only whole grain food recognized by the FDA to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Oatmeal also can aid in maintaining a healthy weight as part of a diet rich in fiber.
Oatmeal is best known for a soluble fiber called beta glucan, which forms a gel in the gut that acts like a sponge and absorbs cholesterol-rich bile. Bile is a digestive juice your intestine normally reabsorbs back into the body in the lower gut. Since the bile is now stuck on the soluble fiber, it leaves the body. This helps remove some of your natural cholesterol. The liver now needs to make more bile, so it pulls cholesterol from your blood to make it. This helps your blood cholesterol drop.
Research indicates oats do more. They help maintain a healthy blood pressure, improve satiety (your sense of feeling satisfied when you eat), and maintain a healthy blood glucose level. This does not mean someone with diabetes should eat all the oatmeal they want. The total carbohydrate content has to be calculated into their carbohydrate allowance. A half cup of plain cooked oatmeal contains about 15 grams of carbohydrate, but a packet of sweetened oatmeal can easily contain twice that amount.
Oatmeal is a whole grain, whether it is old-fashioned, instant or quick cooking. The grain is just ground finer in the quick-cooking varieties. As a whole grain, it qualifies for the FDA health claim that states: " A diet rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers."
Despite the benefits, fewer than one in 10 people eat the recommended amount of whole grains, according to government surveys. Almost one-third of Americans skip breakfast daily, but those who do eat a balanced breakfast weigh less, research shows.
Posted by Lisa at January 26, 2006 8:44 AM
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