Health Benefits of Oats

Did You Know…a bowl of oatmeal can help protect your liver?

Can you name the single factor that appears in autopsy reports of up to 90% of all individuals with obesity?  The answer: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by excess food consumption, rather than excess alcohol consumption.  The outcome can be just as devastating, however—nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis… cancer of the liver… and death.

Researchers have long believed that oatmeal and other whole grains could be used to prevent and treat fatty liver disease.  When recent study put that belief to the test, the results exceeded all expectations!

The Many Benefits of Oats 

Oats possess a variety of properties that make them a prime candidate for fighting fatty liver disease, such as the ability to…

  Lower cholesterol levels
  Downgrade inflammation
  Stabilize blood sugar
  Fortify the immune system
  Possibly even be able to prevent cancer

One of the key health-promoting compounds found in oats is beta-glucan, a kind of soluble fiber.  Beta-glucan forms a gel in the stomach which delays stomach emptying, thereby helping you to feel fuller for longer.  Beta-glucan also helps to regulate the metabolism and protect the liver.

Linking the Cause to the Effect 

Though strong evidence supports the idea that eating oats can help prevent and reverse fatty liver disease, the only way to truly prove that would be randomized controlled intervention studies.  That’s the only way to show a direct link between cause and effect.  Knowing that people who eat oatmeal have lower rates of disease is not the same as knowing that eating oatmeal will cause your risk to drop.

To prove a cause and effect relationship, researchers needed to conduct an interventional study, ideally, a blinded one in which half the participants ate oatmeal and the other half ate a placebo oatmeal.  And that’s exactly what a group of six intrepid researchers did!

Feeling Your Oats? 

In a double-blind randomized trial, 90% of overweight and obese men and women who ate oatmeal lost weight by the end of the trial, compared to zero significant weight loss in the control group.  Participants who ate oatmeal also saw benefits such as…

  • Slimmer waist
  • Average drop in cholesterol of 20 points
  • Improved liver function

All participants had BMIs equal to or greater than 27, and all were between the ages of 18 and 65.  Over the course of the 12-week trial, participants ate either oat cereal or a placebo cereal.  The trial showed that eating oats could help to…

  • Reduce body weight
  • Lower BMI
  • Decrease body fat percentage
  • Improve waist-to-hip ratio

Not only that, but measures of liver function also showed that oats specifically alleviated issues associated with fatty liver disease.

Since not a single adverse effect was documented, there’s really no reason not to spoon up some oats for yourself and see what happens.