Oats For Cholesterol – Here’s All You Must Know

Parul Dube

January 12, 2023

On a gloomy morning, nothing is better than a hot bowl of oatmeal with nuts and berries.

This comforting and hearty breakfast cereal is made from ground oats and has a mushy texture that soothes your soul. Not only is oatmeal popular for breakfast, but one can also use it to make various dishes such as porridge, cookies, and snacks.

Eating oatmeal is one of the simple dietary changes you can make to help lower your bad LDL cholesterol without lowering your good cholesterol.

In addition, exercise and other heart-healthy practices can help you maintain a healthy cholesterol level. 

To find out more about how oats can help, keep reading.

How Does Oatmeal Help Lower Cholesterol?

Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fibre, essential for your body’s health. Its cholesterol-lowering action is attributed to beta-glucan, a form of soluble fibre. Beta-glucan can lower cholesterol in several ways.

For instance, after a meal, the liver produces bile which is stored in the gallbladder and released into the intestines to help digestion. Oats can bind with bile acids and help remove them from the body, further aiding in lowering cholesterol.

Once it’s in your gut, Beta-glucan blocks bile from passing through the gut wall and into your circulation. Instead, this bile remains in your intestines and excretes eventually.

As a result, your body needs to create more bile, which uses cholesterol from your blood. That lowers your blood cholesterol levels.

What Does Research Say?

One study suggests that oatmeal is particularly effective at reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. That is because the oat fibres in oats connect to cholesterol molecules in the small intestine, preventing them from entering the bloodstream and instead sending them out of the body.

Research suggests that consuming between 40 and 60 grams of oats per day (roughly one bowl) may result in a 10% reduction of LDL cholesterol in some individuals. The amount consumed also affects the cholesterol-lowering properties of oatmeal- the greater the intake of oats, the lower the cholesterol.

A study found that consuming 70g of oats daily, which contained 3g of soluble fibre, reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels.

The HealthifyMe Note

Oats can be beneficial for those with high cholesterol levels. Beyond being an aesthetically pleasing breakfast option, oats contain a type of soluble fibre called beta-glucan that helps to reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol. As a result, it can help to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular issues. Additionally, oats are a low-calorie and filling food, making them an ideal choice for those looking to lower their cholesterol levels.

Not All Oats are the Same

Oats are nutritious food and contain beta-glucan, vitamins, and minerals. However, regarding oatmeal, not all options are the same.

Processing oats can decrease the benefits of beta-glucan for heart health, so it’s essential to make wise decisions when choosing oatmeal. In addition, studies have found that the more an oat’s structure is broken down by processing, the less beneficial it is.

If you want to lower your cholesterol, whole-grain oats, such as steel-cut or rolled oats can be beneficial. However, be aware that these forms of oats are sometimes added to ultra-processed foods with high sugar levels and additives, making them unhealthy. 

Research indicates that these oats have a higher impact on increasing blood glucose levels because they are manufactured into thin flakes that are easier to digest.

To prevent a rapid increase in blood sugar, combine instant oatmeal with either lean protein or healthy fat like low-fat milk or chopped almonds. When purchasing instant or ready-to-eat oats, always check the nutrition label to determine what it contains.

The HealthifyMe Note

When you eat whole grains like oats, some cholesterol binds during digestion. This mechanism prevents cholesterol from being absorbed, and instead, it is expelled. Oats are highly beneficial because they are rich in soluble fibre, which helps to reduce cholesterol levels during digestion. It is mainly due to beta-glucan, a water-soluble dietary fibre found in oatmeal. Keeping good cholesterol levels is essential as they are important in protecting heart health.

Healthy Ways to Use Oats to Lower Cholesterol

Here are a few tips for adding oats to your diet to help lower cholesterol:

Start Small

If you are not used to eating oats, start by adding a small amount to your diet and gradually increase the amount over time. It can help your body get used to the oats and may reduce the risk of digestive issues.

Choose Whole Oats

It’s best to choose whole oats rather than processed oats, such as instant oats, as they contain more fibre and nutrients.

Add Oats to Your Meals

You can add oats to dishes such as oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods. You can also use them as a topping for yoghurt or salads.

Get Creative with Your Oats

Try using oats instead of breadcrumbs in recipes or adding them to energy bars or cookies.

Drink Plenty of Water

Oats are high in fibre, which can help lower cholesterol. However, it is essential to drink plenty of water when adding oats to your diet to help your body correctly digest fibre.

Do you have any other questions about adding oats to your diet? It is easy to find all the answers. First, talk to a HealthifyMe nutritionist to clear your diet related doubts and of course for some interesting oats recipes.

Additional Benefits of Including Oats in Your Diet

While oatmeal is beneficial in its cholesterol-lowering properties, there are several other advantages to including it in your daily diet.

Rich in Antioxidants

Whole oats are a rich source of antioxidants, polyphenols, and other beneficial plant compounds, including a particular type of antioxidant called Avenanthramides.

Studies suggest that these antioxidants can protect LDL cholesterol from being damaged by free radicals, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Avenanthramides may help to lower blood pressure by increasing the production of nitric oxide, a compound that widens blood vessels and improves blood circulation. Furthermore, these antioxidants have anti-inflammatory and anti-itching properties.

Improve Blood Sugar Management

Persons with type 2 diabetes or who are overweight may benefit from oatmeal due to its beta-glucan content. A study suggests that the beta-glucan in oats could help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.

It occurs because the beta-glucans form a thick gel which slows down the emptying of the stomach and absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

Weight Loss Benefits

Not only is oatmeal (porridge) a delicious breakfast item, but it is also incredibly filling. Eating more filling foods may help you eat fewer calories and lose weight.

According to one study, the beta-glucan in oatmeal may increase your feeling of fullness by slowing the rate at which your stomach empties meals. 

Beta-glucan may trigger the production of PYY, a satiety hormone released in the gut after eating. This hormone has been linked to lower calorie intake and may reduce your risk of obesity.

Helps Relieve Constipation

People of all ages and populations can experience constipation, which is characterised by infrequent, irregular, and hard-to-pass bowel movements. 

Research has found that oat bran, the grain’s fibre-rich outer layer, may be beneficial in relieving constipation in the elderly. The soluble fibre in oats is also known to help with constipation.


Including oatmeal in your diet is an effective way to lower your cholesterol. Oats are a great source of beta-glucan and avenanthramide, which can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and protect good cholesterol (HDL) from free radicals.

Additionally, oats are high in fibre, which can lower blood sugar levels and prevent constipation. Lastly, oatmeal has a high satiety index, so it will keep you full and energised throughout the day.

The Supporting Reference

1. Grundy MM, Fardet A, Tosh SM, Rich GT, Wilde PJ. Processing of oat: the impact on oat’s cholesterol-lowering effect. Food Funct. 2018 Mar 1;9(3):1328-1343. doi: 10.1039/c7fo02006f. Epub 2018 Feb 12. PMID: 29431835; PMCID: PMC5885279.

2. Thongoun P, Pavadhgul P, Bumrungpert A, Satitvipawee P, Harjani Y, Kurilich A. Effect of oat consumption on lipid profiles in hypercholesterolemic adults. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Dec;96 Suppl 5:S25-32. PMID: 24851570.

3. Gulati S, Misra A, Pandey RM. Effects of 3 g of soluble fibre from oats on lipid levels of Asian Indians – a randomised controlled, parallel arm study. Lipids Health Dis. 2017 Apr 4;16(1):71. doi: 10.1186/s12944-017-0460-3. PMID: 28376899; PMCID: PMC5381086.

4. Henrion M, Francey C, Lê KA, Lamothe L. Cereal B-Glucans: The Impact of Processing and How It Affects Physiological Responses. Nutrients. 2019 Jul 26;11(8):1729. doi: 10.3390/nu11081729. PMID: 31357461; PMCID: PMC6722849.

5. Tosh SM, Chu Y. Systematic review of the effect of processing of whole-grain oat cereals on glycaemic response. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1256-62. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002895. Epub 2015 Sep 2. PMID: 26330200.

6. Zhang T, Shao J, Gao Y, Chen C, Yao D, Chu YF, Johnson J, Kang C, Yeo D, Ji LL. Absorption and Elimination of Oat Avenanthramides in Humans after Acute Consumption of Oat Cookies. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:2056705. doi: 10.1155/2017/2056705. Epub 2017 Dec 21. PMID: 29430278; PMCID: PMC5752969.

7. Hou Q, Li Y, Li L, Cheng G, Sun X, Li S, Tian H. The Metabolic Effects of Oats Intake in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2015 Dec 10;7(12):10369-87. doi: 10.3390/nu7125536. PMID: 26690472; PMCID: PMC4690088.

8. Kristensen M, Jensen MG. Dietary fibres in the regulation of appetite and food intake. Importance of viscosity. Appetite. 2011 Feb;56(1):65-70. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.11.147. Epub 2010 Nov 27. PMID: 21115081.

9. Sturtzel B, Elmadfa I. Intervention with dietary fibre to treat constipation and reduce laxative use in residents of nursing homes. Ann Nutr Metab. 2008;52 Suppl 1:54-6. doi: 10.1159/000115351. Epub 2008 Mar 7. PMID: 18382081.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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