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What grain is believed to contain a high amount of fiber that may help prevent heart disease?
Answer – B: Oats
What better way to gain the strength and energy to carry you through a hectic morning schedule than with a steaming bowl of freshly cooked oatmeal! Oats are harvested in the fall but are available throughout the year and can add extra nutrition to a variety of healthy dishes.
Oats, known scientifically as Avena sativa, are a hardy cereal grain able to withstand poor soil conditions in which other crops are unable to thrive. Oats gain part of their distinctive flavor from the roasting process they undergo after being harvested and cleaned. Although oats are then hulled, this process does not strip away their bran and germ, allowing them to retain a concentrated source of their fiber and nutrients.
Health Benefits of Oats
Lower Cholesterol Levels
A bowl of fresh cooked oatmeal is the perfect way to start off your day, especially if you are trying to prevent or are currently dealing with heart disease or diabetes. Oats, oat bran and oatmeal contain a specific type of fiber known as beta-glucan. Since 1963, study after study has proven the beneficial effects of this special fiber on cholesterol levels. These studies show that in individuals with high cholesterol (above 220 mg/dl), consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat fiber per day (the amount found in one bowl of oatmeal) typically lowers total cholesterol by 8-23%.
High cholesterol levels correlate with the buildup of plaques in blood vessel walls. If these plaques become damaged or simply grow too large, they can rupture, blocking a blood vessel and causing a heart attack, stroke or blood clots elsewhere in the body. Lowering high cholesterol levels can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Oats, because of their high fiber content, are already known to help remove cholesterol from the digestive system that would otherwise end up in the bloodstream. Now, the latest research suggests they may have another cardio-protective mechanism.
Antioxidant compounds unique to oats, called avenanthramides, help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, suggests a study conducted at Tufts University and published in The Journal of Nutrition.
Nonetheless, incorporating more oats in your daily eating may seem difficult to do. Here are a few ways to get those oats in at work. Monday through Friday, most people consume two meals (breakfast and lunch) at the office. Try eating whole-grain breakfast cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat or oatmeal that comes in the single serving, or instant oatmeal which only needs hot water. You can also make sandwiches with whole-grain breads for lunch or a mid-afternoon snack, or add soup or chili with barley to make it a full meal.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
· Here’s a great way to start your day—add your favorite nuts and fruits to a piping hot bowl of oatmeal.
· Oatmeal cookies are a favorite for kids of all ages.
· Add oat flour or whole oats the next time you make bread or muffins.
· Sprinkle oat bran on your hot or cold cereal.
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