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Health Benefits of Oatmeal

By Ryan Devon

While many foods don't have the nutritional muscle to back up the title of 'superfood,' oatmeal is one healthy choice that does. Packed with soluble fiber and healthy carbohydrates, oatmeal has a number of key health benefits. From curbing appetite to reducing cholesterol, eating more oatmeal is a simple way to boost health. You should, however, consult your doctor before making any significant dietary changes.

Cholesterol Levels

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, elevated total cholesterol is a chief risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Especially dangerous is low density lipoprotein, or LDL, a "bad" cholesterol that deposits plaque in your body's arteries. Consuming soluble fiber-rich foods such as oatmeal is an effective way to reduce elevated cholesterol levels, according to Harvard Health Publications. Soluble fiber forms a sticky gel in your digestive tract that grabs and clears cholesterol from your body.

Appetite

Sustained weight loss can be challenging if your appetite isn't under control. According to a research study published in the October 2009 issue of "Molecular Nutrition & Food Research" a compound in oatmeal known as β-glucan reduces appetite by increasing the hunger-fighting hormone cholecystokinin. You can help reduce your appetite further by consuming fibrous foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables with your bowl of oatmeal.

Colon Cancer

Nearly 50,000 adults die annually from colon cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Antioxidants help reduce colon cancer risk by fighting cancer-causing compounds known as free radicals. Oats are rich in a class of antioxidants known as avenanthramides, which may help reduce colon cancer risk, reports a review paper published in the December 2009 issue of "Nutrition Reviews."

Considerations

Although oatmeal is typically considered a breakfast food, oatmeal can be consumed as a healthy whole grain side dish. Oatmeal can be eaten by the spoonful or mixed into healthy dishes and desserts. To flavor oatmeal, consider adding healthy foods such as fresh berries, flaxseeds or ground walnuts.

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