Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Oat beta-glucan is a soluble fiber that is found in the cell wall of whole oats. It is comprised of long chains of glucose and is a polysaccharide. This fiber is not digested. It binds toxins and cholesterol in the digestive tract and helps them to be excreted. This compound has been shown to help lower the levels of cholesterol in the blood.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows some food labels to claim that they may reduce the risk of heart disease, if certain conditions are met. To do this, one serving of a food must contain 3g of whole oat fiber, and be eaten daily in combination with an overall diet low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and fat. Whole oats include rolled oats, oat bran, and oat flour.
The mechanism by which oat beta-glucan is thought to lower cholesterol involves the secretion of bile from the gall bladder into the digestive tract. Bile contains toxins and cholesterol. If there is soluble fiber, such as oat beta-glucan, in the digestive tract, it can bind these compounds and excrete them in bowel movements. Otherwise, they may be reabsorbed by the liver and end up circulating in the blood. High levels of cholesterol can contribute to coronary artery disease.
There are other health benefits claimed for oat beta-glucan. For instance, there is some research that it can improve the immune system. This is the case for a number of beta-glucans. Also, it has been thought to improve blood sugar levels, which can help diabetics. It is also supposed to reduce hypertension.
One can buy supplemental oat beta-glucan powder to add to food, to increase the consumption of this compound. Its solubility is a great help in consuming it in this manner. Food manufacturers also use such a powder to increase the oat beta-glucan content of some foods. When used in this manner, it is thought to retain its ability to lower cholesterol levels.
Theoretically, oats should be a good source of fiber for those with Celiac disease. They do not contain gluten, the compound in wheat that aggravates this autoimmune disorder. They do, however, have another protein that can trigger a reaction in some people with Celiac disease. Unfortunately, in the United States, oat is often manufactured near wheat and becomes contaminated with it. For this reason, oats from certain European countries, where wheat is rarely grown, may be a better source of oat products for people who suffer from this condition.
There are a variety of beta-glucans — produced by grains, like oats and barley, as well as yeast and mushrooms — that vary in their solubility. These are all chains of glucose with a type of linkage, known as a beta linkage, that makes them indigestible. This is in contrast to polysaccharides of glucose, such as starch and glycogen, which are easily degraded as an energy source. Oat beta-glucan has a mix of two types of beta linkages, which cause branching and account for its solubility in water.
@Telsyst - Well, not to give away a family secret, my aunt used to cheat with things like grains and vegetables. She had a particular family when it came to eating healthy. She would use her grinder to grind this stuff up and add it to things like meat loaf or spaghetti sauce.
@Telsyst - Actually the best way to look at oatmeal, if you are not a breakfast person, is to considerate it a snack item.
A lot of people look at those snack bars on the store shelf and think of all the junk they put in it. People generally think it just can't be healthy and they probably aren't. The thing is you can make your own snack bars. I try to conserve my salt intake so these bars tend to be taboo.
Oatmeal is a great base for making your own granola. Granola is a great snack and you can always find a healthy recipe on line. I just make sure to look for one that uses something like honey
as a sweetener. Dried fruit is generally added so the natural sweetness of the fruit keeps it sweet enough. You can also get a protein boost with some nuts too, just watch your salt.
There are lots of snacks you can work oats into. You can find a lot of them around on the internet.
Regular plain old oats should be something you think would be easy to work into a diet. There must be a million things that you could add oats to, but generally people make just oatmeal with it.
I have a great oatmeal cookie recipe, but that defeats the idea of eating healthy.
The problem a lot of people have, me included, is that some people don't like breakfast food. Not to say that they don't like oatmeal, they just look at it as breakfast food.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!