Monday, November 22, 2010

Oat Bran Lowers Cholesterol

On these frosty, cool mornings, a hot bowl of oats is just what the doctor ordered - literally. We've known for years that oats are a factor in good health and that soluble fibre helps to reduce LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind), but today, Health Canada has formally recognized the health benefits of Oat bran specifically.

You may have seen the claims on the packages of Quaker oats, all oats in fact, stating that "oat fibre helps reduce cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease." These claims kind of alluded to the fact that the soluble fibre in oats, called beta-glucancan, help reduce LDL levels, however it seemed as if they were kind of beating around the bush. This is because Health Canada strictly regulates health claims, and very few specific food items or brands of foods are able to have claims associated with disease prevention. Nutrients, yes, but whole foods or parts of them, not usually.

Recently, Becel's pro-activ margarine was the first product in Canada able to display the claim "lowers cholesterol absorption" thanks the fact that it contains plant sterols. Now, Quaker oats can join that special list and proudly display health claims such as "1/3 cup (30g) of Quick Quaker Oats or Quaker Large Flake Oats supplies 40% of the daily amount of the fibres shown to help reduce cholesterol."

According to Dr. Randall Kaplan, PhD, Director, Nutrition Science and Regulatory Affairs at PepsiCo Canada, "A large body of evidence has demonstrated the effectiveness of oat fibre consumption in reducing blood cholesterol. Health Canada's announcement means that we can communicate something very tangible to Canadians - eating foods that contain oat fibre, such as oatmeal, helps reduce cholesterol."