How to take care of your heart

Lower your bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels

An statement has been issued by the US FDA that “soluble fiber from foods such as oat bran, rolled oats or oatmeal, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Such as the pronouncement of the US Food and Drug Administration in 1997 in approving the petition of an oatmeal manufacturer on the heart-health benefits of oats. In fact, this was the first ever petition approved by US FDA for a health claim, permitting the manufacturer company to include this claim on their label.

The health benefits of cereals, vegetables and fruits arising from components other than the commonly known essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals have been known for a long time. This phenomenon has been attributed to higher intakes of dietary fiber. Thus over the past two decades, numerous scientific studies have been done to prove that dietary fiber is an important part of a healthy diet.

Dietary fibers are the remnants of the plant portion of the diet that remains undigested in the human intestine because of the absence of digestive enzymes to break them down. However, with the advent of new analytical methods, it has become clear that not all types of dietary fiber impart the same benefits. Soluble fiber (the dietary fiber that is soluble in water) rather than insoluble fiber has been found to act predominantly in lowering blood cholesterol level, thus lowering the risk of coronary heart disease. In fact even newer analytical techniques have led to the discovery that beta-glucan, a kind of soluble fiber that is richest in oats, has been shown to be mainly responsible for the health benefits of oats.

During the last decade, frenzied search for the health benefits of oats has confirmed its cholesterol-lowering effect. In 1991, Dr. Michael H. Davidson and his team in the Chicago Center for Clinical Research, found in a clinical trial involving 156 adults with elevated cholesterol levels, that eating u to 3oz. of cholesterol or oat bran for 6 weeks progressively lowered total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. In the same year, Dr. Joseph M. Keenan of the University of Minnesota, showed significant effect of oat cereal in contrast to wheat cereal in lowering cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol levels. A review of some 20 oat-feeding trials by Dr. Keenan’s team concluded that 3 grams of beta-glucan every day will results in an average total cholesterol reduction of 5-6mg, even more in those with higher cholesterol levels. A decade-long investigation starting in 1984 among more than 68,000 adult women on the effect of long-term intake of dietary fiber has shown that high fiber intake, particularly from whole grain cereals, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. Then in 1994, Dr. Jan T. Braaten and his team in the Ottawa Civic Hospital in Canada succeeded in showing that the main component of the soluble fiber of oats responsible for its cholesterol-lowering effect is beta glucan.

Some theories have been advanced to explain the health benefits of beta-glucan. One is that it serves to form a gel while bile acids in the intestines, preventing their reabsorption, such that the liver will need to produce more bile acids from cholesterol in the body, thus lowering blood cholesterol level. Another mechanism of action that has been proposed is a direct effect of lowering cholesterol production in the liver by short-chain fatty acids coming from fermentation of soluble fiber in the intestines.

It is now clear that including enough oatmeal in the daily diet lowers cholesterol level in the blood especially among those whose levels are elevated. Both total cholesterol and LDL – (so called “bad) cholesterol are diminished, often accompanied by a slight increase in HDL – (so called “good”) cholesterol. Other possible health benefits include lowering of high blood pressure particularly systolic blood pressure, and easier management of blood sugar among diabetics.

More recently Yale researchers have shown that oatmeal prevents reduced blood flow in blood vessels caused a high-fat meal, pointing to yet another way which oatmeal may be of benefit to the hearts. The approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the petition of the oatmeal manufacturer company on the heart-health benefits of oats has indeed helped heighten the confidence of consumers on the beneficial effect of oat products in lowering the risk of heart disease.

These are just some of the helpful information on the health benefits of oatmeal like lowering blood pressure, decreasing bad cholesterol, and lowering also a person’s risk of having a heart disease. You can have a healthy lifestyle now by simply eating oatmeal everyday. All you have to do is to incorporate oatmeal to your diet and to exercise. A good health is always within our reach.