Eat Your Oatmeal

Can we believe the commercials with people proclaiming dramatic drops in their cholesterol numbers when eating oatmeal for breakfast? Actually, yes. Those great results are due to the high levels of soluble fiber found in oatmeal.

The soluble fiber found in oats and oat bran has been shown to help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol when eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet. The soluble oat fiber mixes with cholesterol in the small intestine, then binds to the cholesterol molecules and carries it out of the body, instead of it being absorbed into the blood.

According to data on adults, LDL cholesterol may be lowered by 10 percent in some cases. It takes only about one bowl of oatmeal a day. The cholesterol lowering benefits of oatmeal is also dose-dependent, meaning the more oatmeal you eat; the lower your cholesterol will go.

Although oatmeal is helpful in lowering cholesterol, some of the goodies we add to our oatmeal may not be. Things like loads of brown sugar, butter, chocolate, whole milk, and many other things can reduce the benefits. Be sure to check the ingredients of instant oatmeal and the fat content of added ingredients if you want to achieve the full, cholesterol-lowering effect of oatmeal.

Know Your Oatmeal

As far as lowering cholesterol, the instant, just-add-water packets are just as good for you as traditional, slow-cooked versions. The main difference is the way that they are processed and prepared.

The healthiest is steel cut oats. These are more expensive and harder to find. They are oats that are chopped into small pieces. They are chewier, which some people prefer. They also boast the lowest glycemic index of all the different oatmeals.

Old fashioned oats are probably the most common. They are oats that are rolled into flattened pieces. The smiling Quaker gentleman has encouraged us to eat them for ages. They are a little quicker to cook than steel cut oats.

Quick cooking oats are almost the same as old fashioned oats but they are pressed into thinner pieces to make cooking faster.

Instant oatmeal is not as healthy as the other types because they usually contain added sugars and salt which can make them unhealthy. They’re convenient but simply not as good for you as the other types.

For those with high cholesterol levels who want to avoid the expense and potential side effects of cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs, making a few strategic lifestyle changes can be a viable alternative. Eating oatmeal, cutting excess fat and calories from meals and snacks, and stepping up activity level are important steps.

If you want to lower your cholesterol even more, you might want to make plant sterols a part of your daily diet. Plant sterols are naturally present in small quantities in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals and legumes.

Certain types of nuts, including almonds and walnuts, have most of their fat as mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some studies show that eating a small amount of nuts (1.5 ounces) every day as part of a low saturated fat and cholesterol diet may help reduce LDL cholesterol. Nuts are fairly high in calories, however, and should be eaten in moderation, and replace other sources of calories in the diet.

Bananas are an excellent addition to your oatmeal. They not only have lots of soluble fiber, but are an excellent source of potassium. Adding potassium to your diet can also help lower your blood pressure. It helps offset the effects of sodium, which raises your blood pressure. Blood pressure and cholesterol are connected -- high levels of one may boost levels of the other, and high blood pressure boosts cholesterol deposits in your blood vessels, which contributes to cardiovascular disease. The 422 mg of potassium in a medium banana can help you meet the recommended 4,700 mg of potassium in your daily diet. Other good sources include baked white or sweet potatoes with skins attached, yogurt, spinach, orange juice and soybeans.

The easiest way to incorporate bananas and oatmeal into your day might simply involve tossing sliced bananas into your morning bowl of oatmeal. For extra cholesterol-fighting benefits, add a handful of nuts as well. Eating the same breakfast every day can get a bit boring, though, so mix it up. Other banana and oatmeal combination ideas might include using them in a smoothie with yogurt and almonds. Or, mix instant oatmeal flakes with mashed bananas and egg whites, then pour the mixture onto a griddle for a healthier version of pancakes. Bananas and oatmeal can also be used in muffins, cookies or breads -- just make sure you’re not adding cholesterol-raising ingredients to the mix.

The good news is that adults can take steps to improve cardiovascular health, including eating a proper diet, exercising, to help control their cholesterol issues.

An excellent cholesterol supplement that includes many important natural ingredients is Cholesterol Complete™ (click here to view). It’s a powerful all-natural formula that targets both types of cholesterol; LDL (low density lipoprotein) and HDL (high density lipoprotein). LDL is the cholesterol you should be most concerned with, it is the "bad” cholesterol that clogs arteries and raises blood pressure. HDL is the "good” cholesterol that helps remove LDL from the body. You’re supporting healthy cholesterol with 100% natural approach!

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