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Oats and Cholesterol

Updated: Mar 5

There are many foods that can help reduce LDL cholesterol, the so-called “bad cholesterol” such as oats, flaxseeds, almonds, avocados, tomatoes, turmeric, and green tea. On the contrary, unfiltered coffee and possibly sugar can increase LDL cholesterol.


Let's talk about oat

Oat (Avena sativa L.)  possesses many nutrients. Is an important source of carbohydrates, dietary soluble fiber, balanced protein, lipids, different phenolic compounds, vitamins, and minerals associated with health beneficial properties.


oats and cholesterol

Oat beta-glucan (OBG), one of the major components of soluble fiber, is a polysaccharide considered to be the major active component in oats with various functional and nutritional properties, mainly cholesterol lowering and antidiabetic effects.


OBG content varies greatly among oat cultivars and is affected by growing locations, storage, and processing conditions.


Except from Oat beta-glucan (OBG), oats also contain a phytochemical called steroidal saponin, which apart from plant defense mechanisms, oat saponins have a potential for cholesterol lowering, immunoregulatory, and anticancer activities


Unrefined and whole oat-based products are more effective in lowering cholesterol as compared to processed oat products where oat tissues are highly disrupted.

 Because of the number of studies and evidence supporting the beneficial roles of OBG, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of health claims on oat-based products, contributing to lowering the risk of CVD if consumed at the rate of 3 g per day of beta-glucan and if the food product contributes 0.75 g of beta-glucan per serving

 

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised-controlled trials:

  • In total, fifty-eight trials (n 3974) were included. A median dose of 3.5 g/d of oat β-glucan significantly lowered LDL-cholesterol (−0·19; 95 % CI −0·23, −0·14 mmol/l, P<0·00001), non-HDL-cholesterol (−0·20; 95 % CI −0·26, −0·15 mmol/l, P<0·00001) and apoB (−0·03; 95 % CI −0·05, −0·02 g/l, P<0·0001) compared with control interventions. Treatment duration ranged from 3 to 12 weeks with the median length being 6 weeks

(Ho HV, Sievenpiper JL et.al., 2016)

 

Among cereals, the highest content (g per 100 g dry weight) of β-glucan has been reported for barley: 2–20 g (65% is water-soluble fraction) and for oats: 3–8 g (82% is water-soluble fraction).


Current evidence suggests daily oatmeal intake can lower cholesterol in five to six weeks.

Food

Effect on LDL cholesterol

GRADE evidence

Foods high in soluble fiber; e.g. psyllium, oats, and barley

Moderate reduction

High 

 **Small <0.20, moderate 0.20–0.40, large reduction >0.40 mmol/L.

(Schoeneck M, et.al., 2021)

 

Pro tip: Add oats daily for 5-6 weeks to lower your LDL (100 g contain a very good amount of b-glucan but is a very large amount for daily consumption. You can always benefit by adding smaller amounts daily)


References:

  • Schoeneck M, Iggman D. The effects of foods on LDL cholesterol levels: A systematic review of the accumulated evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2021 May 6;31(5):1325-1338. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2020.12.032. Epub 2021 Jan 16. PMID: 33762150.

  • Paudel D, Dhungana B, Caffe M, Krishnan P. A Review of Health-Beneficial Properties of Oats. Foods. 2021 Oct 26;10(11):2591. doi: 10.3390/foods10112591. PMID: 34828872; PMCID: PMC8625765.

  • Ho HV, Sievenpiper JL, Zurbau A, Blanco Mejia S, Jovanovski E, Au-Yeung F, Jenkins AL, Vuksan V. The effect of oat β-glucan on LDL-cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol and apoB for CVD risk reduction: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised-controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2016 Oct;116(8):1369-1382. doi: 10.1017/S000711451600341X. Epub 2016 Oct 11. PMID: 27724985.

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