Oat Bran Nutritional and Health Benefits

Oat bran is the edible, outermost layer of the oat kernel. Oats have been recognized as a food and an herb. Like oatmeal, oat bran contains B complex vitamins, protein, fat, minerals, and heart healthy soluble fiber. When eaten regularly, oatmeal and oat bran may support healthy cholesterol levels. Many moms have learned that most families like oat meal or oat bran.

Oat bran is rich in a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. In 1997, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration passed a unique ruling that allowed oat bran to be registered as the first cholesterol-reducing food at an amount providing 3 grams of beta-glucan per day, although some evidence suggests this level may not be high enough to make a significant difference. Several trials have shown that oat bran supplementation can significantly lower cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol, but only slightly in people with healthy cholesterol levels. Breads containing oat bran may, therefore, be beneficial at lowering elevated cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Oat Bran

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Some studies seem to support that soluble fiber from oats lowers cholesterol levels in the blood. Consuming 3 g of soluble fiber from oat products per day (provided by three 28 g servings of oatmeal or one large bowl of oat bran cereal) has been shown to decrease total cholesterol by approximately 1.8. It is estimated that a 1 reduction in total cholesterol could lower the incidence of coronary heart disease by around 2. More studies are needed.

DIABETES

Some evidence seems to suggest that consuming oats for 6 weeks can positively affect blood glucose levels. This is due to the high amount of soluble fiber that is being added to the diet. More studies are needed to confirm this benefit. Control of blood glucose and insulin levels is essential in prevention of many of the complications associated with diabetes.

ATHELTIC PERFORMANCE

Oats have been shown in scientific studies to favorably alter metabolism and enhance performance when ingested shortly (45 minutes - 1 hour) before prolonged endurance exercise (> 2 hours) of moderate intensity. More studies are needed.

OTHER BENEFITS

Preliminary studies suggest that beta-glucan from oats may enhance the immune response. Further research is required to investigate the potential immune-boosting effects of oats however.

There is currently insufficient evidence to suggest that oats promote weight loss or improve compliance to a reduced-calorie diet.
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