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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do certain cereals and oats lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and help lower cholesterol?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 10


    Prof David Colquhoun

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Associate Professor David Colquhoun is a cardiologist who has been in private practice in Queensland for more than 30 years. He has been involved in … View Profile

    If you have cereal and oats, you're making a choice not to have other food. So there's displacement of unhealthy food like fatty bacon and eggs. We also believe that oats and cereals are good sources of soluble fiber, which tend to inhibit absorption of cholesterol from the gut.

  • 5


    Fumi Somehara

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    Fumi is a dietitian (APD) specialising in Dancer's Health and Eating Disorders Treatment. Her work is grounded in Health At Every Size (R) and Non-Diet … View Profile

    Oats are a good source of soluble fibre, which helps lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol. It does so by inteferring with the absorption of dietary cholesterol. 

    Soluble fibre also attracts water and forms a gel, which slows down digestion and keep you full for longer. So you ultimately eat less, which leads to good weight control, which leads to lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease - being overweight is a big risk factor afterall.

    Wholegrain cereals (and oats) contain insoluble fibre, which bulk up stools and keep you regular. Like soluble fibre, they make you feel full so you ultimately eat less and hence achieve good weight control.

    Unprocessed grains and cereals also contain small amounts of resistant starch. These get fermented in the gut by the good bacteria and turn into short chain fatty acids, providing various health benefits such as promoting gut health, reducing certain cancer risks (e.g. colon cancer) and lowering cholesterol levels.

  • 4


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Eating cereal foods (especially wholegrains and those with fibre from oats or barley) is associated with protective effects against heart disease in adults. It has been shown that a high intake of wholegrains (at least 2.5 serves per day) is associated with 21 per cent lower risk of cardiovascular events. Also, a study of postmenopausal women found that six or more servings of wholegrain foods per week protected against the effects of cardiovascular disease.

    Heart disease is often caused by high blood cholesterol levels. Regularly eating cereals that are rich in soluble fibre, such as oats (containing beta-glucans) and psyllium, has been found to significantly reduce the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

    Dietary fibre is the term for several materials that make up the parts of plants your body can't digest. Fibre is classified as soluble or insoluble.

    Soluble fibre - When eaten regularly as part of a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol,  high in soluble fibre has been associated with increased diet quality and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Soluble or viscous fibres modestly reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol beyond levels achieved by a diet low in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol alone. Oats have the highest proportion of soluble fibre of any grain. Oats, via their high fibre 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. Foods high in soluble fibre include oat bran, oatmeal, beans, peas, rice bran, barley, citrus fruits, strawberries and apple pulp.

    Insoluble fibre has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk and slower progression of cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals. Dietary fibre can make you feel full, so you may eat fewer calories. Foods high in insoluble fibre include whole-wheat breads, wheat cereals, wheat bran, rye, rice, barley, most other grains, cabbage, beets, carrots, Brussels sprouts, turnips, cauliflower and apple skin.

    Many commercial oat bran and wheat bran products (muffins, chips, waffles) contain very little bran. They also may be high in sodium, total fat and saturated fat. Read labels carefully.





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