5 ways with oats for a healthy heart

Improving your cholesterol levels can be as easy as sipping on a brekky smoothie.

Adding a handful of oats to your morning smoothie or switching out some flour for oats in your baking can go a long way in improving your heart health, a new study has found.

Oats and similar grains such as barley are naturally rich in beta-glucans, a type of soluble fibre that has long been known to lower the risk of heart disease.

However, until now, just how they do this was unknown.

The unique study, conducted by researchers at University of Queensland, found that beta-glucans can have phenomenal effects on cholesterol in the digestive process of pigs (which is very similar to the human digestive make up).

After a 26 day-period, they found a 24 per cent decrease in blood total bile acids, compared to a control diet.

Related video: Which oats are right for you?

Bile acids are made using cholesterol and aid with digestion. However, it was believed that without beta-glucans, they are easily reabsorbed by the body to be used in the digestive process again, leading to a build-up of unused cholesterol.

The results of the Queensland study support the theory and have also found that beta-glucans are responsible for resetting these bile acids to lower overall levels, effectively reducing the body’s need to absorb cholesterol at all.

Such a relatively small drop in bile acids in the pigs, resulted in a huge 57 per cent decrease in LDL cholesterol (commonly known as the bad blood-cholesterol), a 34 per cent decrease in total cholesterol.

A diet rich in beta-glucans can be achieved by eating oats and barley. Dr Joanna McMillan, Freedom Foods' Nutritional Advisor, has shared her top five ways to enjoy them:

1 - Try Bircher style muesli for breakfast.

2 - Substitute some of the flour in a muffin recipe with rolled oats which will give you a great fibre boost. Our oat and cranberry muffins are the perfect recipe.

4 - Toast your own muesli full of rolled oats, barley and nuts. Our easy muesli recipe even has some tasty dried fruit.

5 - Make a fibre rich, dairy free breakfast smoothie by blending almond milk or soy milk with rolled oats, berries, banana and almond butter. Or, just add some oats to this delicious almond and avocado smoothie.

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