With recent studies it is becoming clear that oatmeal and cholesterol control are closely related. LDL cholesterol can be lowered by as much as 25-28% when combining regular consumption of oatmeal with a low-fat and low-cholesterol diet. Most of us are used to either having breakfast consisting of refined grain (most cereals, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, etc.) or we just skip breakfast altogether. So, what can you do make yourself the best cholesterol lowering oatmeal breakfast?
First, it is best to understand that eating steel cut oats rather than instant oatmeal or even old-fashioned oatmeal is best to lower LDL levels. The important component of oatmeal that helps to fight cholesterol is beta-glucan. Ideally, you want to get 3 grams of beta-glucan every day. Steel cut oats contain 3-4 grams per serving while instant and old-fashioned oatmeal contains 1-2 grams per serving. Be sure to find out how much beta-glucan is in the oatmeal that you eat so you can adjust the serving size to get the right amount of cholesterol fighting power.
One of the biggest complaints about steel cut oats is the time it takes to cook them. With some of the newest steel cut oats available in the grocery store, it is possible to have a very health breakfast in just 15 minutes. Most of that time is spent simmering on the stove, so you can finish dressing or brushing your hair in the morning while the oats are cooking. Quaker now has steel cut oats available in most stores. Another popular brand is Bob’s Red Mill. Both of these take just 15-18 minutes to cook.
The other complaint is in regards to taste. Most people that have grown up eating cereal may think that oatmeal is bland. Most of us are guilty of trying to spruce up a bowl of oatmeal by adding a lot of butter and/or sugar. Adding too much sugar or saturated fats will only counteract the healthy benefits that we would receive from a bowl of oats. Therefore it is important to come up with ideas to make your bowl of oatmeal more pleasing to your taste buds but without adding unhealthy amounts of sugar or butter.
Here are some suggestions for creating the best cholesterol lowering oatmeal breakfast:
- Use steel cut oats. If you are not familiar with this type of oatmeal it may take you a little time to get used to it. However, you should soon realize that steel cut oats do have great flavor by themselves and they are extremely hearty.
- Follow the cooking instructions, but always use milk instead of water when making steel cut oats. This will give your bowl of oatmeal a creamier texture and will also provide some flavor. You can use any type of milk – skim, whole, or 2%.
- Experiment with different toppings that do not include sugar (white or brown) or butter. Here is an extensive list to get you started:
- Fruits – apples (added cholesterol lowering benefits!), applesauce, raisins, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, cranberries (dried or fresh), bananas, cherries, nectarines, kiwi, mango, pineapple, grapefruit, plums, figs
- Nuts – almonds (great cholesterol fighting nut), walnuts, Macadamia nuts, peanut butter, pecans
- Spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, chili pepper, mint (fresh peppermint is great!)
- Other options – cheese (yes, it is surprisingly good!), yogurt, avocado, hot sauce, honey (great option for those with a sweet tooth)
Answering the question of ‘how does oatmeal lower cholesterol’ may not be your only concern. Instead, it may be about how you can prepare the oatmeal so it is appealing to eat every day. Learning how to create the best cholesterol lowering oatmeal breakfast is really not that hard. Start with some steel cut oats cooked in milk and then add some healthy toppings. With some trial and error you will quickly find the best healthy breakfast that you will look forward to eating.