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Oatmeal and Cholesterol – 10 years later

 Have you seen the following statement on your container of oatmeal?  “Three grams of soluble fiber daily from oatmeal in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease”. 

This statement has been on oatmeal containers and other food products that contain soluble fiber since the FDA approved the use of this health claim in 1997.  The FDA determined this statement was valid after research showed that soluble fiber in oats lowers LDL cholesterol.  But, is this statement still valid after more than ten years?  Dr. James W. Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, along with Quaker-Tropicana researcher Mark Andon, PhD, recently reviewed years worth of research to answer this question. 

Anderson and Andon summarized their findings in "The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later", which appeared in the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.  What they found was somewhat surprising! 

They found that not only is the link between eating oatmeal and cholesterol reduction still valid, it is actually even stronger than it was 10 years ago and that there may be more beneficial aspects to oatmeal than originally thought!  The recent data that they analyzed indicated “that whole-grain oats, as part of a lifestyle management program, may confer health benefits that extend beyond total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol reduction”.  They feel that recent studies suggest eating oatmeal may:

  • Reduce the risk for elevated blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and weight gain
  • Reduce LDL cholesterol during weight-loss
  • Provide favorable changes in the physical characteristics of LDL cholesterol particles, making them less susceptible to oxidation
  • Supply unique compounds that may lead to reducing early hardening of the arteries

Anderson states that "Since the 80's, oatmeal has been scientifically recognized for its heart health benefits, and the latest research shows this evidence endures the test of time and should be embraced as a lifestyle option for the millions of Americans at-risk for heart disease”.

According to, you’d have to eat 1 ½ cups of cooked oatmeal (about ¾ cup dry/uncooked oats) or 1 cup of cooked oat bran cereal each day to potentially see a reduction in cholesterol levels and to possibly reap in the additional benefits that were highlighted in Anderson and Andon’s research review. 

As you know, one of the easiest ways to get oatmeal into your diet is to eat a bowl of it every morning for breakfast.  However, if eating a bowl of oatmeal or oat bran every morning doesn’t excite you, here are some other ways to incorporate oatmeal into your diet:

  • Substitute quick or old-fashioned oats for as much as 1/3 of the flour called for in recipes for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, breads, cookies and bars. 
  • Sprinkle some oatmeal into a container of yogurt
  • Coat chicken or fish with rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs
  • Use oatmeal in meat loaf, meatballs, casseroles, and even soup or chili (as a thickener)
  • Put some oats into a blender with fresh fruit and some yogurt to make a delicious smoothie
  • Try PLC’s Featured recipe, which incorporates oatmeal (in place of rice) into a stir fry dish

SOURCES: Andon, M. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, January/February 2008; vol 2: pp 51-57. News release, FDA, 1997.

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