March 31, 2010

Nutritional Benefits of Oatmeal for Healthy Living

Posted in Category : Foods that Heal

Oatmeal serves as a healthy and nutritious breakfast meal. Oats get their characteristic flavor from the roasting process which they undergo after they are harvested. The grains are hulled, but their nutrients and fiber are not stripped away in this process. Oatmeal contains a special fiber which is known to be important in the reduction of blood cholesterol levels. As such the risk of developing heart disease is also lowered. Oats also contain avenanthramides, which are antioxidant in nature and help to restrict the damage caused by free radicals to the LDL cholesterol. This limits the risk of cardiovascular disease. Consumption of whole grain foods such as oatmeal controls the blood pressure and thereby reduces the possibility of heart attack. Postmenopausal women generally tend to experience high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. A serving of oatmeal is known to be very beneficial in this regard as it slows down the plaque build-up in the blood vessels.

The fiber contained in oats known as beta-glucan has been found to be effective in enhancing immunity as they allow the immune cells to move to the area of infection quickly and also boost their ability to fight the bacteria that is causing the infection. Beta-glucan has been known to control blood sugar levels as well and as such must form an important part of the diet of diabetic individuals. Oatmeal is also a valuable source of magnesium, which is involved in the production of enzymes that regulate the use of glucose and insulin by the body. Oats contain selenium which is helpful in reducing the symptoms of asthma. Increasing the consumption of whole grains also helps to restrict the occurrence of childhood asthma. It is also known to be effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer. Studies have shown that the fiber contained in oats also provides protection against breast cancer.

In addition to its many healthy benefits, oatmeal is very easy to prepare and takes only about ten minutes to cook. It is the best type of solids food that can be given to babies. Athletes also find it a healthy and strengthening meal. It is a wholesome food that can be taken by pregnant mothers as well. It is advisable to avoid flavored oatmeal as it may contain sugars. However, children may be given flavored oatmeal to enhance the taste of it. Oatmeal prepared with milk provides added nutrition to the body as milk is rich in protein and calcium.