Avena sativa also more commonly known as oats is a hardy grain cereal and has a very distinctive flavour. This distinctive flavour is derived from the roasting process. This process does not strip away the bran and germ, thus allowing them to keep the concentrated source of fibre and nutrients. So what can oats do for my health?
NUTRIENT PROFILE OF OATS
Oats are an excellent source of manganese and molybdenum. They are also a very good source of phosphorus as well as a good source of copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, dietary fibre, chromium, zinc, and protein.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF OATS
- Oats are high in Beta-glucan’s that is proven to lower cholesterol, reduce glycaemic response, improve bowel functions and helps control satiety levels.
- Oats are high in fibre, especially soluble fibre which attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion.
- Soluble fibre delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight
- High in chromium that assists in monitoring blood sugar levels, aids metabolism, reduces food cravings, regulates fat and cholesterol and may assist in preventing hypertension.
- Improve the nutritional profile in gluten-free diets.
- Has an positive effects on the appetite-control hormones
- Reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
- Improves insulin sensitivity.
- Decrease bad cholesterol.
- Helps to control your blood pressure.
GREAT SOURCE OF SOLUBLE FIBRE
Soluble fibres attract water and form a gel, which slows down digestion. Soluble fibre delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel full, which helps control weight. Slower stomach emptying may also affect blood sugar levels and have a beneficial effect on insulin sensitivity, which may help control diabetes. Soluble fibres can also help lower LDL (“bad”) blood cholesterol by interfering with the absorption of dietary cholesterol.
EVIDENCE SUPPORTING THE BENEFITS OF OATS
A study that reviewed the results of a whole lot of other studies found the following health benefits of oats:
Regular consumption of oats or oat bran has a beneficial effect on total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol, particularly in hypercholesterolaemic subjects.
The intervention trials described in the present review can generally be divided into three groups depending on the product used in the intervention and the dosages:
- Oat bran 25–135 g/day
- Whole-grain oat cereals 45–90 g/day
- Oatmeal 60–150 g/day
The 3–6% reduction in cholesterol can be translated to a 6–18% decrease in CHD risk. Some studies reported significant effects on blood cholesterol only 2 weeks after beginning the intervention, it is likely that the benefits of increasing oats intake start very shortly after changing the diet.
- Oat consumption can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure by 4–6 %.
- 73% of participants receiving treatment for hypertension were able to stop or reduce their medication by one-half after 6 weeks of consuming oats compared to 42% in the wheat-based cereal group.
- Participants in the oat intervention group whose medication was not reduced had a significant 4% decrease in systolic blood pressure in comparison with the control group.
No indication that it would significantly modulate insulin sensitivity.
- Plasma homocysteine: concentrations were reduced by 16% in response to 12 weeks of oat bran.
- Plasminogen activator inhibitor-I and factor VII: decreased by 27% and 7%, respectively, following a 2-week oat bran vs. a low-fibre diet.
- NEFA (Nonesterfied Fatty Acids): increased by 19% after consuming 35–50 g/d of oat bran for 4 weeks, relative to the group consuming an oat bran-free diet.
It is still unclear whether increased oat consumption would significantly affect other risk markers for CVD risk. More comprehensive, properly controlled intervention trials with adequate sample sizes are required to answer this question. The present review also highlighted the heterogeneity of treatments used as a control and notes the importance of carefully defining appropriately controlled interventions.
Oats as a grain have multiple health benefits and serve as an affordable, easy to prepare, nutrient dense functional food. It is great tasty way to start the day, to keep you full and to make sure your body gets what it needs.
- By Prasad Rasane & Alok Jha & Latha Sabikhi & Arvind Kumar & V. S. Unnikrishnan, Published in J Food Sci Technol (February 2015) 52(2):662–675
- By Frank Thies1*, Lindsey F. Masson2,3, Paolo Boffetta4,5 and Penny Kris-Etherton, Published in British Journal of Nutrition (2014), 112, S19–S30