Oatmeal is coarsely ground oats and it is useful in reducing cholesterol in the blood. It is used in a number of food products such as breakfast cereals, muesli and porridge. It is a complex carbohydrates and it absorbed slowly into the body. This means that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream at a slow and steady rate. This is useful too for those with diabetes as it does not cause a spike in sugar level and keeps the body supplied with energy for longer periods than other types of foods.
In early 2009, researchers at the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine released the results of a comprehensive survey of the past 15 years on cholesterol and oatmeal research. According to the study, consumption of oatmeal is not only directly correlated with a reduction in overall cholesterol levels, it is responsible for specifically lowering LDL cholesterol levels and rendering LDL cholesterol molecules less able to form plaques along artery walls. The researchers concluded that "whole-grain products like oatmeal are among some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels."
Oatmeal is useful in reducing cholesterol because it is a soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a thick sludge-like paste in the digestive tract. It attaches to bile acids that contain LDL or bad cholesterol and slows down the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. It is eventually excreted together with the bad cholesterol as waste.
The American Dietetic Association recommends a healthy diet to include 25 to 35 grams of fiber a day, including both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber should make up 5 to 10 grams of your fiber intake. Consuming 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you'll add about 4 more grams of fiber.
The 5 to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day can effectively decrease your total and LDL cholesterol. However, Americans only consume about half that amount.
Other than oatmeal, soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes. Insoluble fiber can be found in wheat bran, whole grain products and vegetables.
According to the studies in adults, LDL cholesterol may be lowered by 10 percent in some cases. In these studies, anywhere between 40 and 60 grams -- or roughly one bowl -- of oatmeal was consumed by each subject per day. The cholesterol lowering benefits of oatmeal is also dose-dependent. That is, the more oatmeal you eat, the lower your cholesterol will go.
Although oatmeal is helpful in lowering cholesterol, some of the ingredients placed in oatmeal may not be. This would include butter, chocolate, whole milk, and cheeses. Be sure to check the ingredients of instant oatmeal and the fat content of added ingredients if you want to achieve the full, cholesterol-lowering effect of oatmeal.
The cholesterol-lowering effects of oats do not seem to be affected by the form in which the oats are consumed. Oatmeal made of quick-cooking oats or steel-cut oats, and even oats used in breads, muffins and other recipes appear to have the same effect on cholesterol.
Oatmeal is inexpensive, easy to prepare and can be added to any diet with little effort. The simplest way to incorporate oatmeal is as a breakfast dish: oatmeal made from quick-cooking oats can be prepared in the microwave in a matter of minutes. Oatmeal prepared from steel-cut oats requires a longer cooking time, but many people prefer their creamy consistency and richer grain flavor. Adding fruit to any serving of oatmeal can greatly increase the amount of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber.