Nothing starts the day off better than a big bowl of warm oatmeal. This traditional breakfast dish has many benefits, particularly for the heart, that make it a smart choice. Not convinced? Still favoring your sugary cereals? Here are seven reasons why oatmeal should be part of your normal diet.
1. Lowers Cholesterol
Oatmeal contains a special strand of fiber called beta-glucan that studies have shown reduces levels of bad cholesterol—and as high cholesterol is a major risk factor associated with heart disease and strokes, a daily bowl of oatmeal could be a life saver! A daily dose of three grams of fiber, the amount found in one bowl of oatmeal, can lower cholesterol by up to 23 percent and reduce the risk of heat disease by almost half.
2. Boosts Immune System
Oatmeal’s beta-gluten fiber does more than protect your heart. Beta-gluten can also amp up our immune systems and help fight bacterial infections by helping non-specific immune cells called neutrophils (our body’s first line of defense against pathogens) quickly locate and heal infected tissues.
3. Special Antioxidants for Heart Protection
Oatmeal not only lowers bad cholesterol but protects good cholesterol! Oatmeal contains special antioxidants called avenanthramides that prevent free radicals from attacking good cholesterol, which also helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Because oatmeal is so rich in fiber, eating it in the morning will help stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day and prevent those mid-morning or mid-afternoon “crashes” that results from eating refined sugars and carbs.
5. Lowers Risk of Diabetes
Speaking of blood sugar, eating oatmeal can also help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal contains high amounts of magnesium, which help the body to properly use glucose and secrete insulin. An eight-year trial showed a 19 percent decrease in type 2 diabetes risk in women with a magnesium-rich diet and a 31 percent risk decrease in women who regularly ate whole grains. Like to enjoy your oatmeal with milk? Eating low-fat dairy products reduces the risk of diabetes by 13 percent.
6. Prevents Breast Cancer
Studies have shown that a diet rich in fiber can protect against breast cancer, particularly if the fiber comes from whole grains. A UK Women’s Cohort Study found that pre-menopausal women who ate fiber from whole grains had a 41 percent less risk of developing breast cancer, while fiber sourced from fruit only offer a 29 percent reduction rate.
Although oatmeal contains a small amount of gluten, studies have shown that oatmeal is well tolerated by both adults and children with celiac disease.
Susan Melgren is the Web Editor of Mother Earth Living. Find her on Google+.