Oats and Their Multitude of Health Benefits
Oats are a type of whole grain, known botanically as ‘Avena Sativa’. Oats are nutritional powerhouses, exerting numerous health benefits throughout the body and have been extensively studied for their beneficial effects health, in particular, cardiovascular and gut health. Containing dietary fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals, oats are an excellent source of nutrients that can be easily included in the diet. Of all of the beneficial nutrients in oats, there is one in particular that seems to be responsible for the majority of the identified health effects, beta-glucan. As nutritional research continues to confirm the importance of dietary fibre for optimal human health, increasing fibre-rich foods such as oats has never been more important.
There are many ways you can include oats in your diet, the most popular being oatmeal or porridge for breakfast. Eimele’s porridge is made from 100% Australian oats giving you all the gut health and cholesterol lowering effects. Eimele’s porridge also has added pea protein, making it a balanced meal with the added vitamin and minerals proving complete nutrition.
Beta-glucans are naturally occurring polysaccharides found in the cell walls of certain plants and bacteria. Beta-glucan is a viscous fibre that when ingested forms a gel in the small intestine which works by delaying nutrient absorption, slowing the delivery of glucose into the bloodstream and consequently reducing the need for insulin (1). These fibres reduce postprandial glycemia and insulinemia, helping to support blood sugar regulation, which is one of the predominant drivers behind many chronic health conditions (2, 3).
In addition to blood sugar regulation, beta-glucan has been shown to exhibit beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. The hypocholesterolemic effects of dietary fibre are still not completely understood, but it has been attributed to the ability of soluble dietary fibre to form viscous solutions that delay gastric emptying, which inhibits the transport of triglycerides and cholesterol across the intestine, consequently reducing total LDL-lipoprotein concentrations (4). Unlike drugs commonly used to control cholesterol in cardiovascular conditions, beta-glucans promote a physiologically-based rebalancing of cholesterol levels, as opposed to inhibiting cholesterol production altogether (5).
Oats also contain avenanthramides which are a unique antioxidant found almost exclusively in oats that offer additional cardioprotective benefits. Avenanthramides may help to reduce blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide promotes the dilatation of blood vessels and therefore avenanthramides may help to improve blood flow, in addition to providing systemic antioxidant benefits (6).
As well as supporting the cardiovascular system, fibre is extremely important for gastrointestinal health. The benefits of dietary fibre in the gastrointestinal system include but are not limited to supporting bowel regularity, microbial diversity, immune function, inflammation and appetite control (5). The insoluble fibre in oats has probiotic properties which modulate intestinal microbiota by improving the diversity and selection of protective bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Enterococcus (7,8). The digestion of prebiotic-rich foods results in the production of short-chain fatty acids which serve as a source of energy for cells inside the colon, has potent anti-inflammatory actions, support gene expression and gut integrity (8).
Eimele’s Porridge comes in two natural flavour options; Wild berry and Pineapple and Kakadu Plum, both providing a vitamin C and antioxidant hit. You can find out more about Eimele’s Porridge Range here.
(1) Jayachandran, M., Chen, J., Chung, S. and Xu, B. (2018). A critical review on the impacts of β-glucans on gut microbiota and human health. The Journal of
Nutritional Biochemistry, 61, pp.101-110.
(2) El Khoury, D., Cuda, C., Luhovyy, B. and Anderson, G. (2012). Beta Glucan: Health Benefits in Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2012, pp.1-28.
(3) Tiwari, U. and Cummins, E. (2011). Meta-analysis of the effect of β-glucan intake on blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Nutrition, 27(10), pp.1008-1016.
(4) Sima, P., Vannucci, L. and Vetvicka, V. (2018). β-glucans and cholesterol (Review). International Journal of Molecular Medicine.
(5) Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits. Nutrients, 5(4), pp.1417-1435.
(6) Liu, L., Zubik, L., Collins, F., Marko, M. and Meydani, M. (2004). The antiatherogenic potential of oat phenolic compounds. Atherosclerosis, 175(1), pp.39-49.
(7) Harper, A., Naghibi, M. and Garcha, D. (2018). The Role of Bacteria, Probiotics and Diet in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Foods, 7(2), p.13.
(8) Holscher, H. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota. Gut Microbes, 8(2), pp.172-184.