An up-to-date review of the recent science behind oatmeal supports its cardiovascular benefits, and supports the FDA's decade-old conclusions.
Consumption of whole-grain oats can effectively reduce levels of LDL cholesterol during weight-loss as well as making LDL less susceptible to oxidation, report the authors, Mark Andon from the Quaker-Tropicana-Gatorade Research and Development Department and James Anderson and University of Kentucky.
"Given the numerous positive evidence-based reviews of oats and cholesterol reduction, as well as the intriguing emerging science, the consumption of oats and oat-based products should be encouraged as part of an overall lifestyle medicine approach for the prevention of cardiovascular disease," wrote Andon and Anderson.
Writing in the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, the authors state that more than a decade has passed since the US Food and Drug Administration reviewed the science linking the consumption of whole-oat sources of soluble fibre and a reduction in blood cholesterol concentrations.
"As is the case for many lifestyle-health disease relationships, the passing of time brings new information that becomes part of the overall constellation of work defining the area. As such, it is prudent for the health professional community to monitor and interpret the science as it continues to evolve," they stated.
The authors report that since 1992 seven reviews of the science have been conducted, including the FDA's 1997 review for the health claim petition. The most recent was a systematic review and meta-analysis published last year by the Cochrane Collaboration.
The reviewers report that all seven reviews reported positive benefits for the consumption of whole-oat products on cholesterol levels.
High cholesterol levels, hypercholesterolaemia, have a long association with many diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD), the cause of almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year.
In bringing the science up-to-date, Andon and Anderson stated that recent studies have suggested that whole-oat products may reduce the risk for increased blood pressure, weight gain, and type-2 diabetes, reduce LDL cholesterol as part of a weight-loss programme, and provide favourable modifications to LDL cholesterol particles, making them less susceptible to oxidation.
"Since the 80's, oatmeal has been scientifically recognised for its heart health benefits, and the latest research shows this evidence endures the test of time and should be embraced as a lifestyle option for the millions of Americans at-risk for heart disease," said Anderson.
"Whole-grain products like oatmeal are among some of the best foods one can eat to improve cholesterol levels, in addition to other lifestyle choices," he added.
Previously, researchers have reported that beta-glucan, a non-starch polysaccharide found in oats, could be responsible for decreases to LDL-C levels observed in many studies.
Source: American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
2008, Volume 2, Pages 51-57
"State of the Art Reviews: The Oatmeal-Cholesterol Connection: 10 Years Later"
Authors: M.B. Andon, J.W. Anderson