The Benefits of Oat Bran

Three muffins
Oat bran is a high-fiber food that can lower cholesterol and provide a number of health benefits. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If you are concerned about your cholesterol, heart disease or other chronic disease, consider adding oat bran to your diet. Oat bran is a high-fiber food that can lower your cholesterol and provide a number of other health benefits. To get the most health benefits from oat bran, make it a part of your daily diet.

Cholesterol

One major benefit of oat bran is its ability to lower cholesterol. In a study by Braaten et al, beta-glucan, the main soluble fiber in oat bran was shown to significantly lower total cholesterol and LDL or "bad" cholesterol. The fiber in oat bran binds with cholesterol-rich bile to increase the amount of cholesterol that is excreted. Oat bran also helps to reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from the foods you eat. Reducing cholesterol can help to prevent the buildup of dangerous plaque in your arteries.

Cardiovascular Disease

A second benefit of oat bran is the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In a study of patients with an increased risk for coronary heart disease, Berg et al found that oat bran reduced total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol can result in plaque buildup in your arteries and lead to high blood pressure and heart disease, which may result in a heart attack or stroke. Oat bran has been shown to lower these risks.

Diabetes

A third benefit of oat bran is its ability to produce long-term improvements in your blood sugar following a meal, as demonstrated in a study reported in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association." Oat bran helps to keep blood sugar levels from getting too high after a meal by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and reducing the rate at which sugar enters your bloodstream. It may also improve blood sugar levels by increasing sensitivity to insulin, which helps to clear sugar from the blood.

Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, eating oat bran might help. According to J.L. Slavin, professor and nutrition expert at the University of Minnesota, fiber may help to promote weight loss by absorbing water as food passes through the gut, causing an increase in bulk and creating a sense of fullness. Fiber also delays digestion and absorption of food, thus delaying hunger. As a result, you may consume fewer calories, which could aid in weight loss.

Constipation

The fiber in oat bran can keep you from becoming constipated by increasing the bulk of your stool and helping to keep it soft. In a Canadian study, researchers found that adding oat bran biscuits to the daily diet of patients produced a marked improvement in bowel frequency and consistency. You can become constipated if your diet is lacking in fiber. Not drinking enough fluid on a high-fiber diet could also lead to constipation. On the other hand, adding oat bran to meals and snacks and drinking lots of fluids can help to prevent constipation by keeping your stool soft and easy to move.

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