OATS Overview Information
Oat is a plant. People use the seed (oat), leaves and stem (oat straw), and bran (the outer layer of whole oats) to make medicine.
Oat bran and whole oats are used for high blood pressure; high cholesterol; diabetes; and digestion problems including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diverticulosis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhea, and constipation. They are also used for preventing heart disease, gallstones, colon cancer, and stomach cancer.
Oats are most commonly used to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
How does it work?
Oats might help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels and control appetite by causing a feeling of fullness. Oat bran might work by blocking the absorption from the gut of substances that contribute to heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes. When applied to the skin, oats appear to reduce swelling.
Likely Effective for:
- Heart disease. Oat bran contains high amounts of fiber. Foods high in fiber can be used as part of a diet low in fat and cholesterol to prevent heart disease. In fact, food products containing whole oats that provide 750 mg of soluble fiber per serving can be labeled with the health claim that the product may reduce the risk of heart disease when included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Lowering cholesterol. Eating oats, oat bran, and other soluble fibers can modestly reduce total and "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol when consumed as part of a diet low in saturated fat. For each gram of soluble fiber (beta-glucan) consumed, total cholesterol decreases by about 1.42 mg/dL and LDL by about 1.23 mg/dL. Eating 3-10 grams of soluble fiber can reduce total cholesterol by about 4-14 mg/dL. But there's a limit. Doses of soluble fiber greater than 10 grams per day don't seem to increase effectiveness.
Eating three bowls of oatmeal (28 gram servings) daily can decrease total cholesterol by about 5 mg/dL. Oat bran products (oat bran muffins, oat bran flakes, oat bran Os, etc.) may vary in their ability to lower cholesterol, depending on the total soluble fiber content. Whole oat products might be more effective in lowering LDL and total cholesterol than foods containing oat bran plus beta-glucan soluble fiber.
The FDA recommends that approximately 3 grams of soluble fiber be taken daily to lower blood cholesterol levels. However, this recommendation doesn't match research findings; according to controlled clinical studies, at least 3.6 grams of soluble fiber daily is needed to lower cholesterol.
Possibly Effective for:
- Reducing blood sugar levels in people with diabetes when oat bran is used in the diet. . Eating oats and oat bran for 6 weeks significantly decreases before-meal blood sugar, 24-hour blood sugar, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes. There is some evidence that consuming 50 grams of oat bran daily, containing 25 grams of soluble fiber, might be more effective than the moderate fiber diet of 24 grams daily recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
- Stomach cancer. People who eat high-fiber foods, such as oats and oat bran, seem to have a lower risk of stomach cancer.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Colon cancer. People who eat oat bran or oats don't seem to have a lower risk of colon cancer. Also, eating oat bran fiber isn't linked with a lower risk of colon tumor recurrence.
- High blood pressure. Eating oats as oatmeal or oat cereal doesn't reduce blood pressure in men with slightly high blood pressure.
- Dry skin. Applying a lotion that contains oats (Aveeno Active Naturals Skin Relief 24Hr Moisturizing Lotion) seems to reduce symptoms of dry skin.
- Preventing fat redistribution syndrome in people with HIV disease. Eating a high-fiber diet, including oats, with adequate energy and protein might prevent fat accumulation in people with HIV. A one-gram increase in total dietary fiber may decrease the risk of fat accumulation by 7%.
- Ulcerative colitis. Early research shows that taking a specific oat-based product (Profermin) by mouth can reduce symptoms and prevent recurrence of ulcerative colitis.
- Itchy skin in people with kidney disease. Early research shows that applying lotion containing oats reduces skin itching in people with this condition. The lotion seems to work as well as taking the antihistamine hydroxyzine 10 mg.
- Bladder weakness.
- Blocking fat from being absorbed from the gut.
- Inflammatory bowel disease.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Joint and tendon disorders.
- Kidney conditions.
- Nerve disorders.
- Opium and nicotine withdrawal.
- Preventing gallstones.
- Skin diseases.
- Other conditions.
OATS Side Effects & Safety
Oat bran is LIKELY SAFE for most people, including pregnant and breast-feeding women. It can cause intestinal gas and bloating. To minimize side effects, start with a low dose and increase slowly to the desired amount. Your body will get used to oat bran and the side effects will likely go away.
Putting oat-containing products on the skin can cause some people to break out.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Difficulty swallowing food or chewing problems: If you have swallowing problems (from a stroke, for example) or if you have trouble chewing because of missing teeth or poorly fitting dentures, it's best to avoid eating oats. Poorly chewed oats can cause blockage of the intestine.
Disorders of the digestive tract including the esophagus, stomach, and intestines: Avoid eating oat products. Digestive problems that could extend the length of time it takes for your food to be digested could allow oats to block your intestine.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For high cholesterol: 56-150 grams of whole oat products such as oat bran or oatmeal, containing 3.6-10 grams of beta-glucan (soluble fiber) daily as part of a low-fat diet. One-half cup (40 grams) of Quaker oatmeal contains 2 grams of beta-glucan; one cup (30 grams) of Cheerios contains one gram of beta-glucan.
- For lowering blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes: High fiber foods such as whole oat products containing up to 25 grams of soluble fiber are used daily. 38 grams of oat bran or 75 grams of dry oatmeal contains about 3 grams of beta-glucan.