oats – Healthy superfoods – by Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando

 

Oats are considered one of the healthiest grains on earth. They are gluten-free and rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber that can actually optimize each and every system of your body. There are different types of oats available in the market; rolled, crushed, steel-cut and instant. All of them are highly nutritious and can be used to prepare porridge, muffins, granola bars, cookies and many other tasty foods. Instant oats are the most highly processed variety and used in preparing quick and easy dishes.

Oats are a common ingredient in the meal plans of health-conscious individuals. Eating a cup of oats every day can benefit your health in numerous ways and here is how;

Reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases

According to a paper published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2008, eating oats that contain soluble fibers (oats, oat bran, and oat flour) may help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The soluble fiber that is responsible for benefiting heart and vessels is known as beta-glucan. Beta-glucan partially dissolves and forms a gel-like substance in the gut, a part of which is then absorbed. These fibers reduce the level of bad cholesterols and the insulin response and improve the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. All these actions together protect the heart and the vessels from different diseases.

Beta-glucan can reduce the triglyceride level as well as the LDL (bad cholesterol) level in the blood by promoting the excretion of cholesterol-rich bile. LDL oxidation is another crucial step in the progression of heart diseases. It leads to inflammation and damage to the vessel walls raising the risk of heart attacks and strokes. But, consuming oats can help in reducing your cholesterol level. As oats together with vitamin C act as antioxidants and prevent LDL oxidation, the risk of vessel damage and subsequent heart diseases are reduced.

Oatmeal helps you lose weight

Oatmeal is not only delicious but is also very filling. A cup of oatmeal in the morning can keep you full for many hours. This will allow you to refrain from unhealthy snacking and extra calorie consumption when you aim at losing weight. Beta-glucan in oats promotes the release of peptide YY (PYY), a satiety hormone produced in the gut in response to eating. This hormone is shown to reduced appetite and thereby calorie intake, promoting weight loss.

Oats is a remedy for childhood asthma

Asthma affects many children in their early childhood. It is an inflammatory condition, in which the airway constricts reducing the air entry to the lungs. Children with asthma experience wheezing, cough and shortness of breath. Studies have shown that early introduction of oats in kids’ diet can play a protective role. One study reports that feeding a baby with oats at around 6 months is linked to reduced risk of childhood asthma.

The fiber in oats helps relieve constipation

Elderly as well as the growing children experience constipation more frequently. There are also some adults who face the same problem. Infrequent bowel movements and the difficult passing of stools can actually disturb your daily life. Some individuals have already got used to using laxatives. But, what if you get to know it is just oats that you need to add to your diet to get that extra fiber you need? Studies indicate that oat bran, the outer layer of the grain, which is rich in fiber, may help relieve constipation. A trial discovered an improvement of bowel movements in 30 elderly patients who consumed oat bran daily for 12 weeks.

Reduces the risk of colorectal cancer

What else can the fibers do? Cleansing the bowels. According to a joint research carried out by the researchers in Britain and the Netherlands, a high fiber diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. The research showed that every additional 10 grams of fiber per day can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 10 percent. The authors concluded, “A high intake of dietary fiber, in particular, cereal fiber and whole grains, was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.”

Oats are for the beauties

Last, but not least, oats can also be used externally. Oats are not only to eat, but they can also use as a cosmetic ingredient. You might have already seen oatmeal bars, body wash and shampoos and other cosmetic products which are mainly made from oats. The FDA approved colloidal oatmeal as a skin-protective substance in 2003. Anyhow, the role of oats as a remedy to treat itch and irritation in various skin conditions bears a long history. Oats is famous for its ability to moist and hydrate the skin and therefore is used in treating conditions such as dry skin, eczema, sunburns and allergic skin conditions.

Oats have many more things to do in your body and what is listed above are only a few. If you would like to live a healthy life, make sure you add a cup of oats to your diet every day.