Eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast every morning could be about the healthiest start to the day you can have, a new study has discovered. The whole-grain cereal can reduce cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of raised blood pressure, weight gain and type II diabetes.
The health benefits of oatmeal have been recognised by America's drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has allowed manufacturer to put health claims on packaging since 1997.
But in the 10 years since then, every study has confirmed the benefits, and now researchers believe oatmeal's abilities as a cholesterol-lowering agent are even stronger than earlier research suggested.
Leading the latest review is Dr James W Anderson, professor of medicine and clinical nutrition at Kentucky University's College of Medicine. He says: "Whole-grain products like oatmeal are among some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels, in addition to other lifestyle choices."
Each study he reviewed concluded that total cholesterol levels are lowered by eating oats, and that LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or 'bad' cholesterol) is reduced without reducing levels of HDL (high-density, lipoprotein, or 'good' cholesterol).
Separate reviews have also discovered that eating oatmeal can reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure, type II diabetes and gaining weight. Oatmeal also contains simple unique compounds that may protect against premature hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
Dr Anderson says: "Lifestyle choices such as diet should be the first-line therapy for most patients with moderate cholesterol risk, given the expense, safety concerns and intolerance related to cholesterol-lowering drugs."
(Source: American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 2008; 2: 51-7).