Sonoma Valley Hospital

SPR 2013

Spirit of Women magazine is a national publication presented to women by hospitals and their physicians. The magazine provides up-to-date, evidence-based healthcare information and promotes our hospitals as leaders in women's health excellence.

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S H A R I N G H E A L T H S E C R E T S Secrets Sharing Q: A: Q: A: HEALTH Can I really lower my cholesterol by eating oatmeal? Yes. The Food and Drug Administration gave oatmeal the status of a "health claim" for its cholesterol-lowering properties in 1997, and that claim has stood the test of time, says Dr. Rachel Johnson, a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and a nutrition professor at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Here's the exact message approved by the FDA: "Three grams of soluble fber daily from oatmeal in a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." The real truth about oatmeal and cholesterol Q: A: What's so special about oatmeal that helps reduce cholesterol? Oatmeal has soluble fber, which is also found in barley, kidney beans, pears, apples and other foods. Researchers aren't certain how soluble fber works to reduce the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream, but they think the fber becomes sticky when it's digested, enabling it to pick up cholesterol in the intestines and carry it out of the body. Q: SHUTTERSTOCK A: Does this work with every kind of oatmeal cereal? Yes, but it's important to fnd out just how much oatmeal is really in the product. In general, lessprocessed products such as steel-cut oats or rolled oats are best; one-and-a-half cups of cooked oatmeal contains the three grams of soluble fber needed to help lower cholesterol levels. Cold toasted oat cereal can also be high in oats and fber, but be wary of products like granola bars or cookies that tout oatmeal as an ingredient. "If you're trying to get the health benefts of oatmeal, it should be one of the top listed ingredients," says Dr. Johnson. Does it still work if I put a lot of sugar in my oatmeal or eat a sweetened oat cereal? Yes, but all that extra sugar can add lots of calories to what is otherwise a pretty healthy breakfast. And extra calories can add up to extra pounds, which is not good for cholesterol levels. So you're better off starting with an unsweetened oatmeal cereal and adding just enough sweetener to taste. You can also try using fruit or fruit puree as a sweetener. To send a health question to "Sharing Health Secrets," please e-mail plawrence@spiritofwomen.com or write to Sharing Health Secrets, Spirit of Women, 2424 North Federal Highway, Suite 100, Boca Raton, FL 33431. w w w. s p i r i t o f w o m e n . c o m S P R I N G 2 013 SPI RIT O F WOM EN 29

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