Veterinarian Reviewed on June 5, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized
Health Benefits of Oat Bran
You are probably familiar with oatmeal, but do you know the health benefits of oat bran? Health conscious individuals are discovering the fiber-power in oat bran. Along with a nutritious diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oat bran should be a part of our daily diet.
What is Oat Bran?
Oat bran is the outer husk of oat grains. Before processing oat products, such as oatmeal and cereals, the husk is removed. Since oat bran is rich in vitamins and minerals and high in soluble fiber, it makes sense to consume the bran or shell of oat grains. Otherwise, we lose out on the most valuable nutrient of this healthy grain.
What is the Origin of Oat Bran?
Ancient civilizations consumed mostly wheat and barley and paid no attention to wild oats, believing them “weeds”. The first recorded proof that oat grains were raised for crops was located in Switzerland caves.
Oats were first cultivated in North America, off the coast of Maine, in 1602. Our first president, George Washington is credited to have sown 580 acres of oats!
In the 1860’s, the Mississippi valley planted acreage in oats and this area remains the prime production spot in the United States.
What are Historical Uses of Oat Bran?
Historically, domesticated animals such as horses and cattle have eaten healthy oat bran. Scotland touts a dish called “sowans”. It is made by soaking oat husks about a week and then straining the floury sediment and adding to soups.
Who hasn’t heard about rolled oat porridge? Our ancestors ate oat bran porridge frequently. Rolled oats and water were boiled for about 20 minutes to make porridge. Sugar and butter toppings were commonly added.
What are Common Uses of Oat Bran?
Oat bran is a healthy cooking aid and is commonly used in recipes for pancakes, breads, cookies and muffins. The taste of homemade oat bran bread is often enhanced by adding honey. Or, add a healthy crunch to breakfast cereal by topping with oat bran.
Organic oat bran is available, either from local farmers or health food stores. More and more people are using oat bran supplements to help digestion. Body builders commonly use oat bran supplements as a metabolism booster for maximum muscle building.
Oat Bran Cautions
It is true that oat bran aids in digestion and acts to reduce high cholesterol levels. But before getting over-enthusiastic, one should proceed with caution when adding oat bran to their everyday diet. Consuming too much oat bran, too fast, can lead to constipation, stomach pain and nausea. It is wise to discuss any drastic diet change with your doctor. Be especially cautious about eating too much oat bran if you have had bowel surgery.
Oat bran provides awesome health benefits. Add oat bran to your diet slowly and adjust upward in increments until reaching the desired amount.
Pertinent Information about Oat Bran
Oat bran contains a particular fiber called beta-glucon, which is proven to significantly lower overall cholesterol. By consuming just 3 grams of soluble oat bran fiber daily, total cholesterol may be lowered 8-23%.
Fiber in oat grain reduces the risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. Instead of taking cholesterol medicine, causing severe side effects, the natural way to optimum health is always preferable.
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan