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Oats and Health

Nutrients in oats

Everyone can benefit from the impressive nutritional profile of oats. For people with celiac disease, pure oats* can provide a ready source of nutrients that are often lacking in their diet.

Oats naturally are a source of the B-complex vitamins - thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. The B vitamins perform essential roles in helping our body use the calories from the food we eat. In addition, the thiamin and niacin vitamins help keep our nervous system functioning properly and riboflavin contributes to eye health.

Oats also provide iron, protein and fiber. Iron is vital to the formation of hemoglobin in red blood cells; hemoglobin carries oxygen to all body cells. The protein in oats contributes to the growth and repair of tissue and is tolerated by the majority of people with celiac disease. See: Safety of Oats (PDF). The special contribution of fiber to our health is discussed below.

Oats and Fiber

Our rolled oats, oat flour and oat groats are whole grain products and are sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Lara's oat products deliver all of the goodness of oats with the added bonus of being pure* and uncontaminated and therefore, tolerated by the majority of people with celiac disease.

Today's healthy eating advice urges consumers to choose whole grain products and declares them essential to healthy diets. Whole grain products include the entire kernel of the grain-the bran, the germ and the endosperm.

The fiber is found in the bran part of the oat kernel. Dietary fiber is an important nutrient and frequently, we don't eat enough of it.

Fiber is thought to help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, with the strongest medical evidence supporting its role in heart disease and diabetes prevention. New research points to fiber's potential role in weight management but more studies are needed to fully understand how it works.

Fiber's health effects are broad. Some specific actions are:

  • Certain fibers absorb water and soften the stool and can be effective in relieving constipation and in promoting regular bowel function.
  • The soluble fiber (β-glucan) can help lower blood cholesterol by binding with cholesterol and other lipids and taking them out of the body. Approximately 3 grams of fiber/day can have a small impact on cholesterol. Lowering blood cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • The soluble fiber can improve how the body handles glucose and regulates insulin production. This could lead to better blood sugar control in those who have diabetes and even possibly, help to prevent the development of diabetes.

Oats and the Glycemic Index

The glycemic index is a scale that ranks carbohydrate-rich foods by how much they raise blood glucose levels.(1, 2)

The glycemic index of carbohydrate-rich foods varies. The reference food is usually white bread and foods are classified as having a low or high glycemic index (GI) when compared to the GI of white bread. Low GI foods exert better control over blood glucose levels and may offer unique benefits for those with diabetes. Oats have been shown to reduce the post-meal rise in blood glucose and the β-glucans are thought to be responsible for this.

The glycemic index of various breads is:

  • gluten-free bread - 71-80
  • oat* bread - 50-65
  • whole wheat bread - 64-80
  • white bread - 71-73

* pure, uncontaminated oats free of wheat, barley, rye, triticale, spelt and kamut and other grains closely related to wheat

1 Canadian Diabetes Association
2 American Diabetes Association

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