When you go “bowling” at breakfast, add oats. Used originally as medicinal food and originating in Asia as the red oat, oats have been cultivated for 2,000 years. The ancient Greeks were the first to eat oatmeal, which came to America in 1600 with the British immigrants-to-become-colonists. Oats support immunity; provide a stress-lowering amino acid (tryptophan) and a trace mineral for strong bones (manganese); and have more fiber for a healthy heart and colon than do blueberries or brown rice.
Best of all, you can eat them in a cookie or a muffin. And why wouldn’t you? Avena sativa (oats) in the bowl as cereal or in the hand as a cookie are a boon to all six immune centers.
Oats lower total cholesterol, protect artery walls, protect against hypertension, improve immune response to infection anywhere in the body, stabilize blood sugar, and offer protection against breast cancer.
Lowering of Cholesterol Levels. Oats, oat bran, and oatmeal, which unlike other grains retain their fiber and nutrients even after hulling, supply a cholesterol-lowering fiber called beta-glucan. Consuming a bowl, or 3 grams worth, of this fiber daily lowers total cholesterol by 8 to 23 percent. Since a 1 percent drop in total cholesterol correlates with a 2 percent drop in the risk for developing heart disease, this is a breakfast choice that matters. Other studies have shown that eating 20 grams of fiber or more daily can produce a 12 to 15 percent drop in coronary and cardiovascular disease. Similarly, in the almost twentyyear-long Physicians’ Health Study, participants who ate one bowl of whole-grain cereal (oat or another grain) showed a 29 percent lower risk for heart failure. Another blood lipid-lowering compound in oats, avenanthramides, prevents dangerous LDL cholesterol from oxidizing and becoming plaque on artery walls.
Protection from Blood Sugar Spikes. Beta-glucan fiber helps stabilize blood sugar in people with diabetes and improves insulin sensitivity by lowering glycemic content and hiking vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber content.
Buying, Storing, and Preparing
- Store oats in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (oats are slightly more perishable than other grains).
- Skip oats if you have celiac disease and must avoid gluten.