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Scientists identified the mechanism of how oats help reducing cholesterol

Eating cereal can be good or bad for your health – it is purely your choice. While sugar-rich food is never good and may actually cause some serious health problems long-term, there are some much more healthy alternatives. For example, a new research from the University of Queensland showed how healthy cereals can help preventing heart disease.

Beta glucans help removing fat from our bodies and thus reduce overall levels of cholesterol. Image credit: Hankwang via Wikimedia, Public Domain

Beta glucans help removing fat from our bodies and thus reduce overall levels of cholesterol. Image credit: Hankwang via Wikimedia, Public Domain

The simple idea behind this discovery is that some healthy cereals, for example, containing oats, may help reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood stream. This has been known for a long time, which is why some cereals are advertised as healthy. It is important to note that they are talking about natural cereals only – without added sugars and flavouring. However, scientists did not really know the mechanism behind it and could not replicate it on demand in other, not so healthy cereals and other food. Now they think they can find new ways to boost the cholesterol-fighting properties of other cereals including wheat.

The secret lays in the healthy soluble fibre, called beta glucans, naturally occurring in the cell walls of some plants. Scientists did know they have an important role in reducing cholesterol, but did not know how. This new research challenged the view that beta glucans gather bile together, preventing it from being absorbed in the small intestine. Scientists found that beta glucans actually reduced the amount of circulating bile, which is secreted during digestion, instead of maintaining it. Dr Purnima Gunness, lead researcher of the study, said: “We aren’t quite sure yet why, but in the presence of beta glucan there is much less circulating bile. This means that fats, which bile helps break down, are not digested as rapidly or as completely”.

One of the key factors in the efforts to reduce blood cholesterol is lower or slower absorption of fat. Which means that instead of rushing from food to our bodies, fat is removed with other waste. Stress on heart is reduced and it helps preventing heart diseases or even stroke. Now scientists will try finding other fibres in plant cell walls that may have a positive impact on cholesterol levels.

Healthy breakfast is very important for our wellbeing. Oats help reducing cholesterol levels in the blood stream and give us important minerals and energy to go about our day.

Source: uq.edu.au