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Is Oatmeal Good for Your Brain?

by
author image Linda Tarr Kent
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
Is Oatmeal Good for Your Brain?
A bowl of oatmeal on a wooden table. Photo Credit Vladislav Nosick/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to brain food, oatmeal is among the top recommendations from health and fitness experts. Eating well contributes to brain longevity as well as short-term benefits like learning new test material and performing well when tested. Oats are good for your brain for numerous reasons.

Fuel

Oatmeal provides glucose, or blood sugar, which is your brain’s basic fuel. That’s why kids who eat a good breakfast perform better in school than those who don’t, for example, notes National Public Radio. Since oatmeal is low on the glycemic index it provides a slow and steady rise in blood sugar that is long-lasting, which leads to several hours of sustained brain power. Sugary foods, in contrast, cause a sudden spike followed by a crash in blood-sugar levels.

Cholesterol Fighter

Oatmeal helps lower your cholesterol. In fact, it’s one of the top five cholesterol-lowering food picks by MayoClinic.com thanks to its soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps reduce “bad” low-density lipoprotein and also reduces cholesterol absorption into your bloodstream. Too much fat and cholesterol are possibly linked to brain damage similar to Alzheimer’s disease, reports the UK’s Independent newspaper. That’s because fatty deposits to build up in your blood vessels, which in turn leads to brain damage over time due to decreased flow of oxygen-rich blood to your noggin. Eat 1.5 cups oatmeal and you get 6 g fiber.

Potential

Oats may have other properties that help prevent cognitive decline, according to researchers at the University of South Australia. These benefits are still theoretical. The researchers in 2010 were recruiting volunteers for a study to put their theory to the test. Pinpointing the brain-boosting benefits in food is important because many nations, including Australia and the United States, have aging populations. Mental disability due to age-related cognitive decline is major public health issue that has a large social and economic impact, notes university research professor Peter Howe in a February 2010 ScienceAlert.com article.

Additional Boost

Give your oatmeal a further nutritional boost by adding fruit like strawberries or blueberries to it, suggest the experts at MayoClinic.com. Berries also are considered good brain foods, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Including fruit boosts the fiber content of your breakfast as well. Throw in walnuts and you get omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants that improve mental performance, according to Shape magazine. Add some cinnamon and you boost the brain power potential of your oatmeal because cinnamon has properties that may improve cognitive function, according to a January 2011 “PLoS One” study.

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