Oats and foods made from them, like oatmeal, may not be the sexiest foods around but study after study has found them effective at reducing low-density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol. And lowering the amount of LDL cholesterol in your body may reduce your chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
Unfortunately, though, most of those studies have looked primarily at the effect of oats on folks of Caucasian ethnicities. Could plain old oatmeal also offer that same protection to folks of other races and ethnicities? That’s exactly the question asked by researchers writing in the latest “issue” of Nutrition Journal. And so far the answer seems to be, “Yes.”
For this study scientists recruited nearly 300 Caucasian adults and 70 adults who self-identified as an ethnicity other than Caucasian—Black, Aboriginal, South Asian, Arab/West Asian, Filipino, South East Asian, Hispanic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean or other. All the study volunteers were given a 14-day supply of either wheat bran cereal or oat cereal with instructions to consume 2 “doses” every day. One of the doses was intended to be taken at breakfast while the second dose could be consumed later in the day.
Now, the researchers behind the study acknowledge that the individual groups were too small to draw any firm conclusions about the effects of oats on specific ethnicities but they did find that oats seemed to work to reduce LDL cholesterol in adults of all races and nationalities. And that’s good news, they say, because health experts in developing countries are actually seeing a rise in LDL cholesterol and the health problems that come with it among their patients. This is despite great strides being made to reduce LDL cholesterol in more “Westernized” cultures. Cereals made from oats could provide an inexpensive and simple alternative to less healthy cereals, these researchers believe.
Wolever, T., et al. (2001). Bioactive oat beta-glucan reduces LDL cholesterol in Caucasians and non-Caucasians. Nutrition Journal.