Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oatmeal for Cholesterol


The recent news about Vytorin and Zetia not being effective for lowering cholesterol was front page headlines across America and in the medical blogosphere. What didn't get any attention was the new research that shows "oatmeal lowers cholesterol even more than we thought 10 years ago ".

Dr James Anderson looked at new studies and compared them with the original conclusion reached by the FDA 10 years ago. He found, without exception, that oat consumption lowered total cholesterol as well as the "bad" LDL cholesterol. He says "Whole grain products like oatmeal are some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels."

Other benefits from eating oatmeal have also been found. It can reduce the risk for hypertension, type 2 diabetes and weight gain. It may supply unique compounds that may reduce early hardening of the arteries.

So what's not to like? Whole Foods sells steel cut Irish oatmeal for under a dollar a pound. Statin drugs can run $30-120/month. Oatmeal causes no side effects (unless you are on a gluten free diet) while statins can often cause muscle pain, liver damage or interact with other drugs. At the very least, oatmeal should be "prescribed" by physicians for everyone whose cholesterol is high.

Gotta run...my oatmeal is bubbling over.

19 comments:

Max-e said...

Hi, I followed the link here fron Kate Isis's blog.
This is the second time in the past week or so that I have heard about oatmeal being good for lowering cholesterol. In fact I made an oatmeal based muesli last night.
I am willing to give it a try as I had a heart attach and quadruple bypass at the end of last year an have radically changed my eating habits - if you get a second chance why blow it.
I'll be having a followup cholesterol test in about two months time and it will be interesting to see the effects of my new eating habits.
I will also check up on the statin drugs as I am on one.
Great site you have.

Rob said...

Oatmeal is good...it does work...but for us boardline high cholesterol folks, I have had to look beyond oats.

For those of us seeking measurable improvements in our cholesterol levels, success requires consuming substantially greater levels of soluble fiber. The National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health recommends 10-25 grams per day. Depending on your chemistry, consumption at these levels can lower LDL cholesterol by up to 8-10%. Some studies have suggested that results could be more significant.

How much oatmeal is required to reach 10 grams of soluble fiber? Roughly 5 servings, or about 2 lbs of prepared oatmeal. For 25 grams, you would need to consume about 5 lbs of prepared oatmeal, or about 2000 calories per day from oatmeal. Nay!

While oats certainly are a good starting point, I begin the day with a heaping tablespoon (=3 teaspoons) of whole psyllium husk. Psyllium seed husks are nature's most concentrated source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Where oats are only about 5% soluble fiber, psyllium husks are about 60%. With a tablespoon of psyllium husk, I start the day with 9 grams of soluble fiber (note: start with a teaspoon and work your way up).

5-6 servings of fruits and vegetables through the course of the day gets me another 5-6 grams.

From here, I shoot for the upper levels of the cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber targets. Success typically requires some culinary creativity and an understanding of the sources of soluble fiber.

Here is one recipe that you may find a useful addition to your weekly food choices:

Barley Pilaf
4 Servings of About 1 Cup Each

Barley never came to my mind as something I would crave. Yet, I discovered that barley stands side-by-side with oats as an FDA-endorsed food for promoting heart health by lowering cholesterol. I have since set out to explore how barley could be enjoyed in something other than a malted beverage.

As it turns out, a barley pilaf can be a delicious alternative to the rice, potato or pasta “starch” in protein/starch/vegetable triad my mom insists constitutes a meal.

A pilaf can be cooked to complement any number of dishes. Adapt by incorporating any number of spices. Start with the basic pilaf and create from there.

So, you ask "why don't more people eat barley." At least part of the answer lies with the fact that cooking barley can be a bit tricky. If your not careful, you might find your pilaf with hot cereal qualities---perhaps great for a cold morning but not the best for a dinner. But if you take a bit of care, you barley pilaf can be a great nutritious alternative to high glycemic, low fiber carbs.

Ingredients
1 Cup Rinsed Pearled Barley
2-2.25 Cups Water
1 Small Onion-Chopped Small
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil*
½ Teaspoon Turmeric
Salt & Pepper to Taste

*to double-up on the cholesterol lowering abilities of this dish, I formulated an extra-virgin olive oil with added plant sterols. This olive oil is available throught the Kardea Nutrition website
http://www.kardeanutrition.com/products/food.aspx

Direction
Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add olive oil and chopped onion. Saute for a few minutes. Add rinsed peal barley and saute for 5 or so minutes, stirring regularly and making sure that barley does not burn or stick to bottom of pan. Add turmeric and then water to the hot barley and stir. Cover, lower heat and cook until tender but still a bit chewy (30 minutes). Remove cover and on very low heat, let steam escape. Periodically fluff to prevent sticking to bottom of pan. Serve when barley appears about the consistency of steamed rice. This all may sound a bit cumbersome, but it works. The turmeric also give the barley a beautiful yellow color, accenting the visual appeal of an entire meal.


Nutritional Facts
(per cup of cooked barley pilaf)
Calorie: 240 Calories from Fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g from olive oil; monounsaturated: 5.7g; polyunsaturate fat: 1.15g; saturated fat: 1.15g (4.3% of total calories); Trans fat: 0.0g.
Cholesterol: 0.0
Total Carbohydrates: 40g; Total Fiber: 8g; Soluble Fiber: 2g.
Protein: 5g.
Plant Sterol: .25g

Stepping-Up
You can try adding any number of spices. Try curry or cumin when serving lean meats or roasted root vegetables. Try ginger and currents when serving fish. Serve with a kidney bean chili or black bean salad (recipe in next blog) to create a meal that delivers 3-4g of soluble fiber.

Toni Brayer MD said...

Max-e: Glad you are starting the oatmeal synergy with your statin. Don't stop the statin...just add in the oatmeal and read below your comment. Rob has a fantastic message with concrete info that I plan on adopting also. He is correct that it is not "oatmeal alone". The added fiber benefit from fruits, vegies and psyllium have been reported in study after study. It's almost like we have heard it so much we don't believe it any more. Once you get on the healthy eating train it is exciting and you won't want to get off.
Thanks Rob, and Max-e please email me with your results. Good luck.

Rich said...

I did a post on oatmeal a while back. When I was a kid my dad would eat it every morning for breakfast. He would always offer me some and tell me that it would put hair on my chest. I try to eat oatmeal as often as I can. It's great with a bit of milk and raisins. Yummy.

Toni Brayer MD said...

Rich: How hairy is your chest? Did it work?

~ Binky, Marivic, & Joy ~ said...

My mom eats oatmeal every morning and with her Filipino diet (we know what that consists of!) she has managed to be off any cholesterol-lowering meds. I guess the old saying that goes something like, "Listen to your Mother..." has some truth to it! LOL!

Rich said...

Tony, Luckily for me most of the hair went right to my head.

Anonymous said...

Why do clinical studies routinely show lower cholesteriol levels for people who eat 1 cup cooked oatmeal per day when all of us eat saturated and trans fat in our foods all day long? It seems to me that since soluble fiber forms a gel in contact with water, it must be in the stomach during the same time period ss the sat. and trans fat for it to have a demonstrable effect on cholesterol levels. (jwade@co.pinellas.fl.us)

Anonymous said...

Everyone searches for quick fixes when it comes to nutrition. They wait till their bodies are so screwed up from lack of proper nutrition, and then resolve to find that one thing, panacea, to solve their problems. Nutrition does NOT work that way! Eating sensibly OVER TIME is what keeps the body working right! Any short cuts allude to "diets" which is temporary. One should substitute the word "approach" for "diet", and become more discipline in their daily intake of food. If you're strict at first (for a few months) and get your body working efficiently, then it's easy to get back in the swing of normal functions and eat reasonably at a restaurant or fast food joint with friends. It takes being strict at first though, and staying reasonably strict on a daily basis. Our bodies were designed to consume those ancient materials that haven't been ruined by the 100,000 man-made chemicals in most of the food we eat. Think about what was available a hundred years ago in nature, and leave the chemicals to the chemist to blow up his lab!

Sasha said...

I am hoping you can answer this question for me. Does oatmeal have to be cooked to get cholesterol lowering benefits? I have been adding 1/3 of a cup of oats to my soy, yogurt and berry smoothies for breakfast.
Sasha

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In cases of pre-menopausal women, should follow a regimen of tests to take care of your cholesterol?
I like oatmeal, barley, this favors have favorable Cholesterol?

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Catherine said...

Eating oatmeal most mornings for breakfast has worked wonders for my high cholesterol. My cholesterol numbers started creeping up in my late 20's.

I refused statin drugs and I thought of my Grandfather who lived to be a healthy active 92 year old and his morning bowl of oatmeal. He always told me to stay away from the instant prepared kinds because they are loaded with sugars.

I make my oatmeal with half milk and half water over the stove. I add ground flax seed and 1/2 a banana or some blueberries. Sometimes I'll add a spoonful of peanut butter or a touch of pure maple syrup. The options are endless. Oatmeal does not have to be bland!

My cholesterol levels dropped significantly and are now heading back down to healthy numbers and I'm sure this played a part.

vibradores said...

So, I do not really believe it will have effect.

www.muebles-en-lugo.com said...

It cannot have effect in actual fact, that is exactly what I think.

Anonymous said...

I am hoping you can answer this question for me. Does oatmeal have to be cooked to get cholesterol lowering benefits? I have been adding 1/3 of a cup of oats to my soy, yogurt and berry smoothies for breakfast.
Sasha


Did this question get answered?

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