Oat fiber might help to decrease cholesterol.

Oat fiber might help to decrease cholesterol.

A bowl of oatmeal is good for the heart. Some research suggests that eating oats can help reduce the levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol that can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease.

A new study suggests that foods containing oat fiber might also lower non-HDL cholesterol counts, as well as levels of a lipoprotein — apo B (ahpoh B) — that carries “bad cholesterol” through the bloodstream. Levels of non-HDL cholesterol are determined by subtracting the amount of “good” cholesterol from total cholesterol counts.

Measuring all three markers could more accurately predict a person’s overall risk of heart disease, according to a team from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. The findings especially hold true for patients with metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes who typically do not have high levels of “bad” cholesterol, the team noted in results published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The team reviewed the results of 58 international clinical trials including more than 4,000 patients. They examined the effects of a fiber known as beta-glucan on levels of LDL and non-HDL cholesterol, as well as apo B.

Oats are a rich source of beta-glucan, and the researchers said diets that include beta-glucan fiber from oats modestly reduced LDL cholesterol, non-HDL cholesterol and apo B.

A bowl of oatmeal alone might not provide the recommended amount of oat fiber, the researchers pointed out. But adding oat bran to your daily diet could help your heart, and the rest of your body, keep on ticking.

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