It's been more than a decade since the FDA approved a heart-health claim for oatmeal and other foods made from whole oats, such as oat bran and oat flour.
Those products are allowed to bear labels stating that soluble fiber from whole oats, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. The FDA approved that health claim in 1997, based on research showing that soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol.
The new research review confirms those benefits. It also includes more recent data showing that oats may also do the following:
- Help dieters' cholesterol. Weight loss lowers LDL cholesterol, and oatmeal may lower it even further.
- Improve LDL cholesterol profile. Oatmeal may curb small LDL cholesterol particles, which may be riskier than bigger LDL particles.
- Curb inflammation. Lab tests show that antioxidants in oats have anti-inflammatory properties. It would be impractical to try to eat the amount of oatmeal needed to get the antioxidant levels used in those tests, but smaller doses over time may have benefits.
- Reap whole-grain perks against high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and weight gain.
Mark Andon, PhD, and James W. Anderson, MD, conducted the research review, which appears in the January/February edition of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.
Andon works for the Quaker-Tropicana-Gatorade Research and Development Department in Barrington, Ill. That's Quaker as in Quaker Oats, which asked the FDA for the original oatmeal health claim. Anderson works for the University of Kentucky's departments of internal medicine and clinical nutrition.